Keeping Fab Melo is the right move
Melo was speculated to be in the trade that sent Jordan Crawford to the Celtics from Washington. That would have been a seven-foot sized mistake.
Yes, the big Brazilian needs plenty of work. He looks awkward and lost on the floor and only picked up a basketball as a freshman in high school.
But the guy is just oozing with potential. He was a McDonald’s All-American in 2010 and was arguably the best player in his second year at the college basketball powerhouse Syracuse. He also had some off-court issues in college, but the only disruption Melo has had in green involves furniture and door frames.
Melo’s never been an outstanding rebounder and jump shot is not in his vocabulary, but these are aspects of his game that he can work on. Keep in mind, Kevin Garnett could not shoot from mid-range at all when he came in the league until Kevin McHale worked relentlessly with him and now Garnett is one of the best shooting big men in the game.
Melo is no Garnett, obviously, but he can be a poor man’s Marcus Camby or a DeAndre Jordan-type of center. That’s not too shabby. Camby was an excellent center in his prime.
One thing you can’t really teach is instinct when it comes to shot blocking and Melo has that in spades. In the D-League, Melo was averaging almost three-and-a-half blocks per game and almost three per in his breakout year with the Orange.
Now that Jason Collins has been sent away, Melo should get more minutes and while it will be painful for a while, Celtics fans will be happy with the end result. Part of the reason Melo looks so out of it when he is on the court in Boston could be because of nerves. The guy hasn’t seen many minutes and it has to be nerve wracking to be out there playing against NBA players and trying to learn the system with players you aren’t too familiar with.
The conventional wisdom on big men is they need time to develop. Well that goes triple for Melo and Danny Ainge knew that when he took him 22nd overall in last year’s draft. It would be disingenuous to say you are drafting a project, then before his first season is over the message is, “Well that didn’t work out, so we’re going in a different direction.”
As the cliché goes: You can’t teach size. Even without Crawford, the Celtics needed size and still do. Losing Collins hurts depth-wise, but the guy just didn’t do much out there anyway and Melo can easily do what Collins did (whatever that was), but with shot blocking. Melo can also improve the more he plays. For better and mostly worse, you knew what you were getting with Collins.
In a couple years, with Garnett and Doc’s help and Ainge’s patience, fans will be saying, “We almost traded this guy? Man, that would have been dumb.”