Knicks 2020 NBA Draft: Examining some of the best and worst No. 8 picks of all time

Alex Smith
·10 min read
Parish Schrempf Alexander Hill TREATED ART
Parish Schrempf Alexander Hill TREATED ART

The Knicks head into November’s 2020 NBA Draft with the eighth overall pick.

Sure, it’s not the No. 1 spot that Knicks fans had been hoping to secure, and most experts are not forecasting a very deep draft this year, but the Knicks still have a chance to land a very talented player at their current spot in the first round.

Just how good? To get a sense of the type of player the Knicks could end up drafting in a perfect world, here’s a look at some of the best eighth overall picks in the history of the NBA Draft, which dates all the way back to 1947.

Let’s take a look at some of the best players ever who heard their names called eighth …

Robert Parish, 1976

Parish is undoubtedly the best eighth pick of all-time. The 7-foot-1 center was selected by the Golden State Warriors in 1976, but was traded (along with a first-round pick that ended up being Kevin McHale) in 1980 to the Celtics for two future first-round picks.

With the Celtics, Parish was quite literally in the middle of three Celtics championships in the 1980s, averaging 16.5 points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 blocks over his 14 seasons with the team. The nine-time All-Star played 21 seasons in the league, and his 1,611 regular season games played are the most by any player in NBA history.

Parish was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996, and inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.

Detlef Schrempf, 1985

Born in Germany, Schrempf was taken by the Dallas Mavericks in the 1985 draft after a great career at the University of Washington. But he put up middling numbers with the Mavericks during his first two seasons before being traded to Indiana after his third year.

It was with the Pacers that Schrempf’s career took off, as he averaged 17.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 4.1 assists over his five seasons. The 6-foot-10 forward was then traded again after an All-Star season in 1992-93, landing with the Seattle Sonics. Schrempf played six seasons in Seattle, making two more All-Star Games while shooting 41.4 percent from beyond the arc.

The two-time Sixth Man of the Year retired after the 2000-01 season.

Rudy Gay, 2006

Incredibly, Gay has never been an All-Star during his 14 NBA seasons. But make no mistake, Gay has been one of the league’s top scorers for quite some time now.

Taken by the Houston Rockets out of UConn in 2006 and traded to the Memphis Grizzlies before his rookie season, Gay has averaged at least 17.0 points per game in 10 of his 14 seasons and has average 20+ points per game three times.

What Gay hasn’t done much in his career, however, is make the playoffs. Gay has played in the postseason just three times in his career, as he’s spent the majority of his career playing for bad teams in Memphis and Sacramento.

Gay is still playing, as he’s spent his last two years with the San Antonio Spurs, averaging 12.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game.

Jamal Crawford, 2000

One of the best scorers off the bench the NBA has seen over the past two decades, Crawford has made scoring look almost effortless. Taken by the Bulls in 2000, Crawford’s career got off to a slow start, averaging 8.3 points over his first three seasons.

After a strong fourth year in Chicago, Crawford was traded to the Knicks, and while he played for some bad Knicks teams, Crawford put up the best numbers of his career over his five seasons in New York, averaging 17.6 points while playing a career-high 36.9 minutes per game.

Crawford has played for nine teams in his career, making quick stops along the way, but he’s taken home the Sixth Man of the Year Award three times (twice with the Clippers and once with Atlanta), and he’s been a prolific scorer off the bench just about everywhere he’s gone.

Clark Kellogg, 1982

Kellogg is one of the great “what ifs” in NBA history. Taken by the Indiana Pacers out of Ohio State in 1982, Kellogg burst onto the season as a rookie, averaging 20.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.8 steals, and 1.7 blocks, earning a spot on the All-Rookie First Team.

Over his first three seasons, the 6-fot-7 power forward averaged 19.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.0 assists, appearing primed to be one of the next young stars in the NBA. But chronic knee problems for Kellogg began in the 1985-86 season, as he played just 19 games before sitting out all of 1986-87.

Kellogg appeared in four games in 1986-87, but his knee issues were simply too much. Kellogg has enjoyed a successful career as a broadcaster, and you’ve probably heard his commentary in the NBA 2K video games.

But who knows how big of a start Kellogg could have become if not for injuries.

Ron Harper, 1986

Taken by Cleveland in 1986, Harper averaged 22.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in his first season, earning First Team All-Rookie honors.

Harper put up tremendous scoring numbers with both Cleveland and the Los Angeles Clippers, averaging 19.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.9 assists over his first eight seasons, but Harper is probably best known for his role with the Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 1990s.

Harper was the starting point guard during the Bulls’ second three-peat of the decade. His scoring numbers dipped, but it’s hard to blame him for that when playing on a team with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.

After spending one more year in Chicago following the three-peat, Harper then joined the Los Angeles Lakers, and won back-to-back titles with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

Overall, the five-time NBA Champion averaged. 13.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.9 assists, proving to be a winner at the NBA level.

Jack Sikma, 1977

Taken by the Seattle Sonics in 1977, Sikma went on to have a Hall of Fame career with the Sonics and Bucks. He played 14 seasons in the NBA, and never had a year in which he averaged single digits in points.

A seven-time All-Star, Sikma was named to the All-Rookie first team in 1977 and the All-Defensive team in 1981-82. He helped lead Seattle to an NBA title in 1979-80, averaging 14.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 3.4 assists.

The 6-foot-11 center was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.

Andrew Toney, 1980

Like Kellogg, Toney’s career was cut short due to injuries, but he proved to be a key player for the Philadelphia 76ers during his seven seasons in the league.

A two-time All-Star in 1983 and 1984, Toney was the starter at shooting guard on the 1983 Sixers team that won the title behind a loaded roster including Julius Erving, Moses Malone, and Mo Cheeks, among others. Toney averaged 19.7 points and 4.5 assists that season.

Overall, Toney averaged 15.9 points and 4.2 assists while shooting 50.0 percent from the floor during his seven seasons.

Honorable mention:

Tom Chambers, 1981

Andre Miller, 1999

Rex Chapman, 1988

Kerry Kittles, 1996

Channing Frye, 2005

Terrence Ross, 2012

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, 2013

And as good as some of those above picks panned out, there have been some No. 8 picks that have, well, gone in the opposite direction.

Here’s a look at eight of the worst eighth overall picks in NBA Draft history, which includes a couple of Knicks …

Frank Ntilikina, 2017 and Marquese Chriss, 2016 (The jury's still out)

We’re lumping these two players together because the sample size is still very small, but it’s probably fair to say that neither player has lived up to his draft status.

Ntilikina has had flashes here and there of being a solid NBA guard, particularly on the defensive end. The defensive toughness and athleticism are there with Ntilikina, but offensively it looks like his game has begun to stagnate. Maybe he does eventually take the leap forward, but it’s hard to look at his selection and not think about what could have been if the Knicks had taken Donovan Mitchell, who went 13th overall to the Utah Jazz.

Chriss is a physical specimen at 6-foot-9, 240 pounds, but the power forward is now on his fourth team four seasons (five if you include the Sacramento Kings, who drafted him and traded him on draft night). He’s never been able to catch on with a team, and has averaged just 8.0 points and 4.9 rebounds in 19.4 minutes per game.

He did start 21 games for the depleted Warriors last season, and averaged a career high 9.3 points and 6.2 rebounds, so maybe Chriss can finally find a home in the Bay Area.

Stanley Johnson, 2015

Five seasons into his NBA career, it’s fair to call Johnson a bust at this point. A highly touted wing out of Arizona, Johnson’s NBA career has never gotten off the ground.

He’s averaged just 6.6 points for his career and has now been with three different teams, but he played just 6.0 minutes for the Toronto Raptors last season, and he only played in 18 games with the New Orleans Pelicans the season before.

Just about every NBA team wishes they could have taken Devin Booker in the first round in 2015 (he was taken 13th overall by the Suns), but Detroit would have loved to have chosen Booker over Johnson.

Nik Stauskas, 2014

After a tremendous sophomore season at Michigan that included a run to the National Championship Game, Stauskas seemed primed for the NBA. But after being drafted by the Sacramento Kings, it became apparent quickly that Stauskas wasn’t going to be the same player in the pros.

Stauskas averaged just 4.4 points per game and shot 32.2 percent from three-point range in 73 games as a rookie, but he only averaged 15.4 minutes per game. Sacramento then sent him to Philadelphia in a deal that was a pure salary dump for the Kings, who were willing to give up on Stauskas to free up cap space in other places.

Stauskas suited up for five teams in five seasons before heading to Spain for a year. He’s currently a free agent, and may very well be done in the NBA.

Jordan Hill, 2009

In 2009, the Knicks were one pick away from having the option of drafting Stephen Curry, who went seventh overall to Golden State. Ah, what could have been.

But the Knicks ended up taking Hill, who averaged 5.2 points and 3.7 rebounds in 47 games before being traded to the Houston Rockets as part of a three-team deal that brought Tracy McGrady to the Knicks.

Hill played with five teams and had his best numbers with the Los Angeles Lakers from 2011-15, playing with some bad LA teams. He averaged a pedestrian 7.9 points and 5.8 rebounds during his eight NBA seasons.

He wasn’t a bad player, and the Knicks used him to land McGrady (though he was past his prime at that point), but the Knicks could have drafted DeMar DeRozan, Jrue Holiday, Jeff Teague, or Darren Collison, among others.

Joe Alexander, 2008

A star at West Virginia, Joe Alexander lasted just 67 games in the NBA before his career was over. After being traded to the Chicago Bulls during his second season and missing some time due to injury, Alexander suited up for just eight games during his second season.

He’s carved out a career playing overseas, and even attempted an NBA comeback with the Warriors in 2013 that didn’t pan out, but he’s one of the more notable NBA busts over the last two decades.

Honorable mention

Rafael Araujo, 2004

Mark Macon, 1991

Bo Kimble, 1990

Randy White, 1989

Lancaster Gordon, 1984