The 1964 NBA Draft provided the New York Knicks one of their greatest players in franchise history.
The New York Knicks have built their legacy on two championships and a number of franchise players over the decades. This has not arrived often, but in the earliest days of the NBA, they found cornerstones who made a dent in professional basketball.
1964 provided this in an 11-round class, long before the NBA shortened its draft process. More than half the players the Knicks chose never played a game, but more than just one player made an impact.
How did New York’s 1964 draft class result? Let’s take a look:
Slash Line (with Knicks): .426/.667
Career Averages (with Knicks): 15.5 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 1.2 APG
21 years before the Knicks selected Patrick Ewing first overall, Jim Barnes went to them at No. 1 in the 1964 NBA Draft. It was their second consecutive top selection, as Art Heyman did not pan out in the 1963 draft.
Barnes spent just parts of two seasons with the Knicks, playing 82 games with near double-double averages. It became the best span of his six NBA seasons, which spanned five teams and featured a dramatic statistical decline due to frequent injuries.
By 1970-71, Barnes was out of the NBA.
Slash Line: .476/.747
Career Averages: 18.7 PPG, 12.9 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.1 BPG
1965-71 was the era of Willis Reed with the New York Knicks. Those seven seasons resulted in All-Star appearances, five 20-point, 13-rebound years and an historic moment, hobbling out for the NBA Finals to help his team win it all.
Reed only went in the second round, too, but at eighth overall, when the NBA’s number of teams was well off what it became today. Still, for what he developed into, this spot in the draft was excellent value.
Reed retired at age 31, hampered by injuries from the previous three seasons. His stat line dropped off, and he walked away after the 1973-74 campaign, making the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame just eight years later.
Howard Komives spent parts of five seasons with the Knicks, becoming their stalwart at point guard. He topped out at 15.7 points and 6.2 assists in 1966-67 and was a proficient free throw shooter.
After a move to Detroit, Komives played more 82-game seasons, but saw his role fall off as he became a journeyman from 1971-74.
Freddie Crawford found an NBA career as the 26th overall pick in 1964. He played for five teams in four years, but still made something of an impact in his time.
Em Bryant spent four seasons with the Knicks, acting as a backup point guard. He shot 47.2 percent in his second season, which was high for that era, and topped out at 10 points and 4.8 assists per game with Buffalo in 1970-71.
The Knicks had seven draft picks who never made an NBA appearance. This happened frequently in the earliest moments of the draft, and will follow in the ensuing retrospectives.