With new sensation and full-blown phenomenon Jeremy Lin transforming the New York Knicks and Deron Williams single-handedly trying to carry the New Jersey Nets and making the Eastern Conference All-Star Team, we have point guards on the brain here in the New York area. So how can we not ask: Who are the best point guards in Knicks and Nets history? Well, here they are. When perusing the all-time total assist leaders for each franchise, one gets a pretty good ranking right there, so that's how they'll be stacked up, with longevity counting into the equation. So Dick McGuire didn't make the cut or Kenny Anderson or Charlie Ward or Rory Sparrow or Kevin Porter. There is one glaring omission, though, as Stephon Marbury would be ranked fifth, with his combined assists for his time with both the Knicks and Nets (3,402). But the best thing he did for New Jersey was bring back Jason Kidd in a trade, and the best thing he did for New York was go to China, so we just can't get ourselves to put him on any all-time-best list -- and that's saying something considering that the controversial Michael Ray Richardson was left on.
5. Bill Melchionni (3,044 Assists With Nets): Except for a brief two-year stint with the Philadelphia 76ers (where he won an NBA Championship in 1967), Melchionni spent the rest of his career with the New York Nets in the ABA (1969-'76), where, as the seasons went on, the quality of play in the "other" league rivaled that of the NBA, and was certainly better than the dark ages of the 1940s and '50s. In his seven seasons with the Nets, Melchionni won two ABA Championships, while losing another, played in three All-Star Games, was on the All-ABA team once, led the league in assists twice, averaged 21 points per game in the 1971-'72 season, is second on the Nets' all-time assists list, seventh in assists-per-game (6.1) and sixth in games played (502). His No. 25 is retired by the team.
4. Michael Ray Richardson (3,654 Combined Assists With Knicks and Nets): Richardson was the first-round draft pick of the Knicks in 1978, and he finished his career with the Nets, with a very short stint in between with the Golden State Warriors. Richardson was a ferocious defender (twice he made the NBA All-Defensive Team), and his specialty was the steal, leading the league in total steals four times and steals-per-game three times. The talented guard led the league in assists in the 1979-'80 season (10.1), and that year he became the first-ever player to lead the NBA in steals and assists in the same season. A four-time All-Star (three times as a Knick and once as a Net) and selfless distributor of the ball, Richardson was also a fantastic rebounder, three times averaging more than six boards per game. He finished his career with a 14.8 points-per-game average (with a high of 20.1 in 1984-'85), seven assists per game, 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 steals. In only four seasons with the Knicks, he's ranked third all-time in steals (810), first in steals-per-game (2.6), 10th in assists (2,244), second in assists-per-game (7.1), and he holds the top three spots in the single-season total steals and steals-per-game lists and the second best single-season assists-per-game mark (10.1 in 1979-'80). He played parts of four seasons with the Nets, ranking eighth in total assists (1,410), sixth in assists-per-game (6.8), ninth in steals (552), first in steals-per-game (2.7), and he has the Net single-season steals record (243 in 1984-'85, 3.0 average). Immensely talented on the court, Richardson was just as troubled off the floor. Cocaine was his downfall, finally being suspended from the NBA in 1986. He was reinstated a few years later, but failed two more drug tests, which he called into question. He's had other problems and issues, but there's no denying he was one of the best guards the New York area has seen, despite his short-lived career.
3. Mark Jackson (4,005 Assists With Knicks): Born and raised in Brooklyn and playing his college ball at St. Johns, it was only natural that Jackson would begin his NBA career in New York with the Knicks. He was taken 18th overall in the draft, and paid immediate dividends, winning the Rookie of the Year Award. He averaged 10.6 assists-per-game that season, which is the best per-game mark in Knicks' history, as are his total of 868. His only All-Star Game appearance came as a Knick, and he's all over the franchise's all-time leader boards: Second all-time in assists (4,005), first in assists-per-game (8.0), sixth in steals (720) and steals-per-game (1.4), fourth in single-season steals (205) and single-season steals-per-game (2.5), and he has five of the top 10 best seasons in piling up assists and three of the top 10 in assists-per-game. Jackson finished his career averaging 9.6 points-per-game and 8.0 assists, and he'll always be remembered for his signature teardrop floater.
2. Jason Kidd (4,620 Assists With Nets): Kidd came to New Jersey in 2001, and he instantly transformed the franchise. If Julius Erving being sold to the Philadelphia 76ers was the transaction that set the Nets back years, the Kidd acquisition was the best trade in team history. Kidd led the Nets to a pair of NBA Finals appearances in his first two seasons in New Jersey, and he was the runner-up MVP for the 2001-'02 season. In his six-and-a-half seasons with the Nets, he was a five-time All-Star, led the league in assists-per-game twice and total assists and steals once. Kidd wasn't just a passer, though, as he could do it all. He's one of three players in NBA history to average a triple-double in multiple playoff series, and in 2007 he was the second player ever to average a triple-double for an entire postseason. He made the All-NBA Team twice as a Net, four All-NBA Second Teams, two All-Defensive Teams and four All-Defensive Second Teams. Kidd's all-time Net rankings: First in assists (4,620), first in assists-per-game (9.1), first in steals (920), first in three-pointers made (813), fourth in points scored (7,373), fifth in rebounds (3,662) and fifth in games played (506). He was traded to the Dallas Mavericks with Devin Harris being part of the deal who was then shipped off to the Utah Jazz for Deron Williams, as the baton gets handed from one excellent point guard to another.
1. Walt Frazier (4,791 Assists With Knicks): One of the all-time great point guards, and one of the best all-around players in NBA history, Clyde was phenomenal at both ends of the court, and he was at his best when his team needed him the most. The Hall of Famer spent 10 seasons with the Knicks, winning two NBA titles. His accolades are as long as his closet is full of outrageously colorful suits. Frazier was a member of the All-Rookie Team, five All-NBA Teams, one All-NBA Second Team, seven All-Defensive Teams and seven All-Star Teams, and he was the MVP of the 1975 All-Star Game. His signature game came in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals, when he pumped in 36 points and dished out 19 assists. He finished his career with an 18.9 points-per-game average, 6.1 assists a game, 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals. When he retired he held just about every Knick record there was, but he presently ranks first in assists (4,791), fifth in assists-per-game (6.3), second in points scored (14,617), seventh in points-per-game (19.3), second in games played (759), eighth in rebounds (4,598), second in steals-per-game (2.0) and 10th in steals (589). Steals didn't become an official statistic until the 1973-'74 season, which was Frazier's seventh season, so who knows how many steals he really had. His No. 10 is retired by the Knicks, but we still get to enjoy the Clyde personality on TV, where he turns every Knick broadcast into a mellifluous poem.