Turn On The Knicks Throwback Thursday – Draft Blunders: Renaldo Balkman

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve been showing you some of the more miserable draft nights in New York Knicks history. In case you missed them, here’s the list that leaves much to be desired.

Michael Sweetney

Nene Hilario (the Antonio McDyess trade)

Frederic Weis

If you thought things couldn’t get any worse, you are sorely mistaken. This Throwback Thursday, we’re taking you to the atrocity known as the Isiah Thomas era.

2005-06 season was a harsh one for the Knicks and their fans. They finished with the worst record in the Eastern Conference and just two games ahead of the league’s worst Portland Trail Blazers. At least they got a top draft pick out of it though, right? Nope. The Knicks unprotected second overall pick went to the Chicago Bulls as part of the Eddy Curry debacle. For what it’s worth, the Bulls eased the pain of that robbery by using that pick to take LaMarcus Aldridge, only to trade him down in the draft for Tyrus Thomas. Still, the Knicks owned two first rounders, numbers 20 and 29, and had a roster with more holes than a spaghetti strainer. The first selection was one of the biggest draft surprises in franchise history.

It’s not that Renaldo Balkman was a bad basketball player. His heart and hustle made for a great spark plug, especially on defense. However, as it goes most times in life, timing is everything. Balkman was touted to be maybe a late first or early second rounder. Isiah claimed that the Phoenix Suns were prepared to take him with the very next pick. Phoenix refuted the report, using the pick to select a raw, but promising point guard named Rajon Rondo. Since Rondo and MVP Steve Nash would have been an embarrassment of riches, he was moved for a future first rounder. Why do most moves executed by other franchises make so much sense?

Balkman played a whole six season in the NBA, although most of it was spent on the bench. His career-high for minutes per game came in his rookie season, the same year that he set personal records for points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. Here’s some highlights from that “magical” year.

I would say that Balkman could now be found in the Phillipine Basketball Association, but he was banned this past Spring after an altercation in which he shoved two officials and choked his own teammate, Sprewell style. Can’t make this stuff up.

As for the 29th pick, it’s hard to harp on team for blowing a selection so far from the lottery, but Mardy Collins?!? The guy only lasted four years in the NBA, all as a backup point guard. A strong finish to his rookie season made some fans believers, but anyone with a brain could see that he was clearly a step behind the competition.

If nothing else, Collins will always be known as the one who got the Knicks-Nuggets brawl cooking.

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