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Top 5 Prospects the New York Knicks Must Target in the 2012 NBA Draft

Adam FriedgoodContributor IIIMarch 27, 2012

Top 5 Prospects the New York Knicks Must Target in the 2012 NBA Draft

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    Heading into the 2012 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks only have their second-round draft pick. The Houston Rockets own the Knicks first-round pick, which they received when the Knicks traded for Tracy McGrady back in 2010.  

    The New York Knicks have done a great job in recent years of finding talent late in the draft. Just two years ago, they drafted Landry Fields out of Stanford in the second round and he instantly became their starting shooting guard.

    I believe due to their abundance of guards on the roster, the Knicks will target big men with their only pick in this year’s draft. Hopefully they will be able to find one who can come in and play solid defense and rebound when Amar’e Stoudemire or Tyson Chandler needs a breather.  

    Here are the top five prospects I believe the Knicks should target in the 2012 NBA Draft.

5. Ricardo Ratliffe (Missouri)

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    2011-2012 Statistics: 13.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 69.3 FG percent

     

    The senior Ricardo Ratliffe was one of the most efficient players in the country during the regular season. He finished second in the country with his 69.3 field goal percentage—first for players who played over 20.0 minutes per game.

    The Knicks could really use a big man like Ratliffe who understands his role is not to force up shots and is to hit the easy layups or dunks when he gets the ball in the paint. Aside from his offense, Ratliffe is also a great rebounder on both ends of the floor, averaging over three offensive rebounds per game.

    He would definitely bring an energy off the bench that the Knicks are looking for. 

4. Jeff Withey (Kansas)

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    2011-2012 Statistics: 9.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.5 BPG

     

    Jeff Withey is very raw on offense, but is ferocious on the defensive end. He was Top Five in the NCAA in blocks this season with 3.5 blocks per game.

    The tournament was where he had his best defensive game of the season. In his Sweet 16 game against North Carolina State, Withey had a ridiculous 10 blocks—the second highest total in tournament history—only behind Shaquille O’Neal who had 11.

    Withey plays a very similar style to Tyson Chandler and could really learn a lot from playing behind him. If he can pick up his rebounding, Withey has the ability to turn into a defensive specialist in the league someday.  

3. Will Barton (Memphis)

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    2011-2012 Statistics: 18.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 3.0 APG

     

    I know I said the Knicks should only target big men, but Will Barton is extremely talented and would be a steal if he falls all the way to the Knicks’ pick in the second-round.

    His best attribute has to be his incredible rebounding for a guard. Even though he is only 6'6", he always attacked the glass and averaged over eight rebounds per game this season.

    Barton is also a great all-around scorer. He was so hard to guard in college since he was bigger than most of the other shooting guards. Barton was able to get to the basket pretty easily and shot a good 51 percent.

    He was also efficient from the three, shooting 35 percent from long range this season.

    Adding a talent like Barton would allow the Knicks to possibly trade some of the established guards they already have to upgrade elsewhere. 

2. Festus Ezeli (Vanderbilt)

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    2011-2012 Statistics: 10.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.0 BPG

     

    Festus Ezeli really hurt his draft stock from his junior to his senior season. Last season many people believed he could get selected at the end of the first round, but his drop off in production in almost every important statistical category has made many scouts now think otherwise.

    Regardless of his play on the court, Ezeli is still 6'11" and 255 pounds, making him a very solid prospect coming out of college. He is physically ready to step into an NBA lineup right away since he is a fifth-year senior and has had a lot of time to grow and prepare for the next level.

    I believe a player with extreme size, like Festus Ezeli has, would be hard for the Knicks to pass up on if he’s available when they pick in the second round. 

1. Fab Melo (Syracuse)

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    2011-2012 Statistics: 7.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.9 BPG

     

    Entering the tournament most people believed Fab Melo would be a first-round pick, but his absence from the Big Dance may cause him to slide into the second round.

    Melo really made his presence known this season on the defensive end, manning the middle of the Syracuse 2-3 zone. He averaged 2.9 blocks per game even though he only played in 25 minutes per game. Fab Melo is a legitimate 7' with a wide frame and could really be the defensive force off the bench the Knicks need next season.

    If Melo played behind Chandler and followed his style on offense, I really believe he can turn into an efficient scorer as well.

    He has a really big body and if he learns how to use it properly to create space for himself to get easy shots and rebounds, he has the potential to turn into one of the best players from this year’s upcoming draft. 

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