The 10 Greatest Knicks in history, ranked by Player Efficiency Rating (PER)

This list might surprise you.

New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony
New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

The New York Knicks are one of the most iconic franchises in professional sports. Their glory days were in the 70s when the 1970 and 1973 Knicks won the only two championships in franchise history.

Since the arrival of Julius Randle in 2019 and Jalen Brunson in 2022, the culture has shifted. That duo are two of the top Knicks of all time, but which players made (or are still making) the most impact in NYC?

What is Player Efficiency Rating (PER)?

John Hollinger, currently a senior columnist for The Athletic, created the per-minute rating system when he was with ESPN. When defining PER, Hollinger wrote:

"The PER sums up all a player's positive accomplishments, subtracts the negative accomplishments, and returns a per-minute rating of a player's performance."

John Hollinger

Hollinger's system is pretty solid but isn't always reliable (see No. 1 for more information). Nikola Jokic (31), Giannis Antetokounmpo (30), Shai-Gilgeous Alexander (29.8), Luka Doncic (28.2), and Anthony Davis (25.8) lead the league in PER this season, which accurately describes their value.

The Greatest Knicks in history according to Player Efficiency Rating

10. Kyle O'Quinn (19.6)

New York acquired O'Quinn in a sign-and-trade in 2015. He signed a four-year, $16 million contract and spent three of those seasons with the Knicks. Quinn, who came off the bench in all but 19 games in New York, averaged 6.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.6 assists with the Knicks.

O'Quinn declined his team option for 2018-19, citing that he wanted to play for "more than next year's draft," otherwise known as the tank for Zion Williamson. The center wanted to play for a playoff contender, something he hadn't done with the Knicks or Magic.

He played two more seasons in the league, 2018-19 in Indiana and 2019-20 in Philadelphia. The best season of O'Quinn's career came in 2016-17 in New York when he averaged a career-high 6.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

9. Mitchell Robinson (20.4)

Robinson is the first current Knick to appear on this list, but there's another higher-up. In 2018, New York drafted Robinson in the second round. It wasn't until his third season (2020-21) that he started in the majority of the games he played in.

Unfortunately, the center has dealt with several injuries throughout his six seasons. He's missed the past few months with an ankle injury that required surgery, but he recently returned to the lineup. That's great news for the Knicks, as Robinson is one of the best offensive rebounders in the league and the team's defensive anchor. Good luck attacking the paint when Mitch is down there.

8. Amar'e Stoudemire (20.5)

In 2010, New York acquired the star via sign-and-trade. Stoudemire stayed with the Knicks for five seasons, averaging 17.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game. He helped New York secure three consecutive playoff berths, which hadn't been done since the late 1990s/early 2000s.

One of Stoudemire's best seasons came in 2010-11 (his first in New York), when he averaged 25.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.9 blocks per game. Midway through that season, the Knicks traded for Carmelo Anthony. That duo pulled New York back to relevancy.

In 2016, Stoudemire signed a one-day deal with the Knicks and retired, even though he spent eight seasons with the Suns.

7. Patrick Ewing (21.6)

Ewing is easily one of the most beloved Knicks of all time. New York drafted him No. 1 overall in 1985, the last time the organization had the top pick. He was with the team for 15 seasons before he was traded to the Supersonics in 2000. Ewing should've been a Knick for life.

New York didn't make the playoffs in Ewing's first two seasons in the league, but after that, the Knicks made the postseason with Ewing every year. He led the team to four Eastern Conference Finals appearances and two NBA Finals appearances. That dominance is something fans haven't experienced since.

Ewing played in 1,039 games for the Knicks and averaged 22.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per contest. The Hall of Famer's No. 33 jersey hangs in the rafters at MSG for a reason.

6. Jalen Brunson (21.7)

Brunson has yet to finish his second season with the Knicks, but it isn't surprising that he's on this list. He'll continue to climb up it.

A single number can't measure his impact, and there's still a lot left for him to accomplish. Brunson's already helped to turn the organization around. He's blossomed into a star in New York and is on the cusp of leading the Knicks to their second consecutive playoff berth, which hasn't been done since 2013.

Brunson's an All-Star, soon-to-be All-NBA player. The sky is the limit for him.

5. Carmelo Anthony (21.8)

You should've known that Melo would be on this list. The 2011 trade that sent him from the Nuggets to the Knicks reenergized the fanbase. He spent six-and-half seasons in New York. During his first three seasons (including 2010-11), the Knicks made the playoffs.

Anthony averaged 26.5 points per game in his first three seasons. In 2012-13, he led the Knicks to their first 50-win season (54-28) since 1999-00. Every season Melo was in New York, he was an All-Star. He breathed hope back into a franchise that desperately needed it.

Unfortunately, front office troubles got in the way. Before the 2017-18 season, the Knicks traded Melo to the Thunder. It was an ugly divorce. Since retiring in 2023, Melo has been at MSG several times to watch the Knicks. He'll always be a New York legend.

4. Harry Gallatin (21.9)

Let's take it way back with Harry "The Horse" Gallatin. In his first season (1948-49), he played for the Knicks in the Basketball Association of America (BAA) league. Gallatin's second season, 1949-50, was the NBA's first.

Iron Man is used to describe players, but it all started with Gallatin. He played in 610 consecutive games with the Knicks, a record that still stands in 2024. He averaged 12.7 points and 12.1 rebounds per game and was one of the league's best rebounders. Gallatin's No. 4 on New York's all-time rebounding list at 5,935.

From 1951-53, he helped lead the Knicks to three straight Eastern Division championships. It's been 66 years since New York traded Gallatin to Detroit (where he spent his final season), but his Knicks legacy lives on forever.

3. Bob McAdoo (22.1)

McAdoo joined the Knicks a few years after their 1973 title and a year after he won the 1975 NBA MVP. In 1976, the Buffalo Braves traded him to New York midseason. Unfortunately, his time with the Knicks wasn't without controversy.

In the second half of the 1976-77 season, he averaged 26.7 points and 12.7 rebounds per game. In his first full season in New York, he averaged 26.5 points (third-most in the league) and 12.8 rebounds per game. McAdoo was a top-10 MVP candidate and an All-Star.

The first half of the 1978-79 season was his last in New York, as he was traded to the Celtics.

2. Bernard King (22.5)

King played with New Jersey and Utah before New York, where his career blossomed. From 1982-87 (he missed nearly two seasons with a knee injury), he averaged 26.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. He was a two-time All-Star with the Knicks.

In the 1984 playoffs, he averaged 34.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game before the Knicks were ousted in the second round by the Celtics. The following season, King led the NBA in scoring with 32.9 points per game. On Christmas Day in 1984, he scored 60 points against the Nets (his former team), a franchise record that remained until 2014 when Melo dropped 62 on the Bobcats.

A right knee injury cut his time with the Knicks short. He missed the 1985-86 season and played only six games in 1986-87. After that season, New York renounced his rights. The Hall of Famer is a true Knicks legend.

1. Enes Freedom (23.1)

Believe it or not, Enes Freedom (previously Kanter) leads the Knicks in PER. The center spent a season and a half in New York before he was waived after the front office couldn't trade him. During that span (2017-19), he averaged 14 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game.

His time in New York isn't memorable, mainly because the Knicks finished 29-53 in his first season. The season after that (when he was waived), New York finished with a 17-65 record, the worst in the league.

Freedom was displeased with his reduced role, but still left the Knicks on good terms.

Next. 20 People who turned their backs on the Knicks. 20 People who turned their backs on the Knicks. dark