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New York Knicks in Need of More Melo?

September 1st, 2013 at 8:00 AM
By Matt Agne

The New York Knicks have pretty much established their roster. All but the final roster spot has been filled. That leaves the question, who will fill the Knicks 15th roster spot? Most believe it will be a center to give them more depth behind Tyson Chandler. The popular thought is that the team will sign a veteran such as Earl Barron or Hamed Haddadi. Others believe the team will bring in a young player with promise they can develop. If signing a young center is the plan, could former Syracuse Orangemen standout Fab Melo be the answer?

'Melo' photo (c) 2011, erokism - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The Memphis Grizzlies acquired Fab Melo from the Boston Celtics in exchange for forward Donte Greene and cash considerations. Basically the trade was a salary dump in order to avoid tax implications. In the deal, Greene got a useful forward and Memphis got a young big who is extremely raw and easily cut if they so choose. 

Unfortunately for Fab Melo the Grizzlies decided his services weren't needed. Considering Memphis has Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Kosta Koufos and Ed Davis the move is not overly surprising. However, his release could be a chance for the New York Knicks to add a young center prospect to their roster to develop next to their young power forward prospect Jeremy Tyler.

Fabricio "Fab" Paulino de Melo is a 23-year-old center from Juiz de Fora, Brazil. The man known as Fab Melo is 7'0" tall and weighs 255 pounds. He was selected with the 22nd overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics.

Fab Melo is a raw prospect and although he was with the Celtics from 2012-13 be spent most of the time in the NBA D-League playing for the Maine Red Claws. That being said, he showed some real promise in his time as a Red Claws player.

He was was named an NBA D-League All-Rookie First Team player and an NBA D-League All-Defensive First Team player in 2013. Most impressive was his December 22, 2012 performance against the Knicks' D-League affiliate the Erie BayHawks. That night he recorded a triple double with an impressive 15 points, 16 rebounds and 14 blocks. Clearly, he has some raw skills that could be developed.

Historically bigs take longer to develop than other position players do. No one should just dismiss Fab Melo as a bust because he was under used for one season with a veteran team and released by a team who acquired him in a trade. After all, he only played in six games for a total of 36 minutes. There's no way to judge a players' worth in that little amount of time.

'New York Knicks' photo (c) 2013, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

The bottom line is, you can't teach Fab Melo's size. He's still young and learning the game and could clearly be a better rebounder but that could be developed through coaching and understanding of the game. He has great physical tools on his side, natural shot blocking and has the ability to face-up to the rim with his jump shot.

What's even more positive is the fact that because he still is learning the game he doesn't have bad habits to correct. Now, is Fab Melo going to get signed to be a game changer? No, he's simply not ready to make an impact like that. Right now he's a big body with NBA-level shot blocking ability.

Fab Melo has a 9'2" reach and a 7'3" wingspan. He has all the measurements and youth you'd look for to develop a raw player. The Knicks would have to bank on him growing into a useful player under the tutelage of talented big men like Tyson Chandler, Kenyon Martin, Amare Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani. Jeremy Tyler is also a young big to develop next to who has been through a lot and could be a bit of a role model for Fab Melo to model himself after.

Maybe the most positive part of Fab Melo is his attitude. He knows he's raw. He knows he has a lot to learn. He understands the transition from a zone defense to the NBA-style man-on-man defense isn't an easy one for him. Most of all, he's willing to work.

Some will look at Fab Melo and see a bust. Others will see a young big with promise. It's up to Glen Grunwald to decide how they view him. However, if they are looking to develop a young center there's no reason why Fab Melo couldn't be a candidate for that 15th roster spot. With any luck the Knicks could have a future front court of Jeremy Tyler and Fab Melo.

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Tags: Andrea Bargnani, Basketball, Boston Celtics, Donte Greene, Erie BayHawks, Fab Melo, Glen Grunwald, Jeremy Tyler, Kenyon Martin, Memphis Grizzlies, NBA, New York, New York Knicks, Syracuse Orangemen, Tyson Chandler

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