RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Fab MeloPosted by EJacoby on June 7th, 2012
The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.
Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.
Player Name: Fab Melo
Height/Weight: 7’0” / 255 lbs.
NBA Position: Center
Projected Draft Range: Late First Round
Overview: After playing less than 10 minutes per game as a freshman and looking like a complete stiff, Fab Melo showed drastic improvements in his second season at Syracuse. He was one of the most indispensable parts of a 34-3 team, witnessed by the fact that the Orange lost two of their three games when Melo was not with the team. He is incredibly mobile for a seven-footer and possesses a 7’3” wingspan, making him an elite shot-blocker who dominated the paint in Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone. He averaged 2.9 blocks as a sophomore in just over 25 minutes per game, good for the best block percentage in the Big East. With improved mobility and conditioning, the big man became more of a factor offensively (7.8 PPG) on mainly lob passes and putbacks. Melo is still incredibly raw on offense in terms of one-on-one post moves, but his exponential improvement over the past year is a good sign that he can still add to his game. His impact on the game goes beyond the box score, as he alters opposing shots and game plans with his imposing defensive presence, and he also helps open up driving lanes for teammates by eating up space on the offensive end. Melo was academically ineligible twice during the 2011-12 season, including during the most crucial time of the season (the NCAA Tournament). There are still some concerns about his attitude, temperament, and ability to stay focused on basketball. But when he is locked in, Melo is a legitimate defensive force that still has much room for improvement.
Will Translate to the NBA: Melo has prototypical center size (7’0”) and wingspan (7’3”) with a dominant block rate that should make him an asset at the next level as a rim protector. He’s tall enough to hold his own against true centers but also has good instincts to challenge quick leapers and crafty finishers, and he avoided foul trouble fairly well. His mobility and agility for his size allows him to run the floor well and get in position to finish at the rim. Melo should be able to adjust to the speed of the NBA game, showing an ability to run the floor for an explosive Orange team last season.
Needs Work: He’s still a project offensively and can’t be counted on to create any offense of his own, which is not ideal for a prospective starting center. Melo doesn’t even try to shoot the ball from outside of the paint and only converted 63.3% of his free throws. He also averaged just 5.8 rebounds per game, a shockingly low number given his overwhelming size and defensive skills. He needs to keep working on his fundamentals on both ends and has a long way to go before he can be trusted with the ball in his hands.
Comparison Players: Melo is a unique center prospect because he lives in the paint on both ends yet has the agility of a stretch four. If he ever developed a jump shot or a modicum of offensive moves, he’d become an elite prospect. His body type is like Roy Hibbert, and they look similar running the floor, but Melo is nowhere near as skilled offensively as Hibbert has become. His impact on the game is more like Brendan Haywood, another seven-footer but one who contributes mainly as a banger in the paint with solid mobility to contest all kinds of shots and move smoothly on offense without asking for the ball.
Best Case Scenario: Fab Melo is not going to be an impact offensive player in the NBA, which limits his potential contribution, but he won’t be asked to do much on that end. He should be a strong immediate defensive asset with the potential to alter plenty of shots at the rim. Melo’s physical traits as a legitimate seven-footer with a huge wingspan and terrific mobility put him in a unique class of NBA athletes. Given the lack of true centers in the league, Melo could develop into a starter that specializes in paint protection. That fits a need for the majority of pro teams.
Best NBA Fit: Melo is the kind of player that any NBA team could use, but he is definitely going to need more time to develop. Therefore, a good fit would be for a deep team that could employ Melo in a specialized role while he improves as an all-around player. Great teams like the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, and Oklahoma City Thunder all need size and draft late in the first round, so don’t be surprised if he ends up on one of these established franchises that will devote time to developing the young big man. Teams more in need of immediate help will likely turn elsewhere in the first round.
Scout’s Take (from NBADraft.net): “You can’t teach what Melo has: Tremendous length and a frame with the agility and athleticism to move. His skill level is average, but team’s will fall in love with his potential.”
*This post was contributed by RTC’s Evan Jacoby. He can be found on Twitter @evanJacoby.