Latest ESPN NBA mock draft - Celtics take De'Anthony Melton 27th

ESPN's latest NBA mock draft has the Boston Celtics taking USC guard, De'Anthony Melton with the 27th pick in the first round. Melton is a 6'3", 195-pound PG/SG who has yet to play for USC this season because of ineligibility resulting from an FBI investigation into bribery allegations. Here is ESPN's Jonathan Givony on Melton possibly becoming the Celtics' pick at #27:

The Celtics have a tough decision in front of them with Marcus Smart entering free agency, and may need to find a cheaper backcourt option to avoid luxury tax issues.

Melton looked to be on the verge of a breakout season for USC before the FBI investigation shut him down indefinitely. His defensive versatility, toughness and intangibles make him a prospect worth investing in. Starting salary: $1,640,400.

De'Anthony is a sophomore at USC, and not having played thus far this season could cause him to drop down to the Celtics in the latter stages of the first round. At the Draft Express, he was only measured at 6'2" in shoes, but with a 6'8" wingspan. Both his size, skills and freshman stats point to a mix of Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier. This information is via DraftExpress' Mike Schmitz:

DE'ANTHONY MELTON - USC'S SWISS ARMY KNIFE: Unheralded USC freshman guard De'Anthony Melton has exceeded expectations through 21 games, evolving into a starter for the Trojans in a do-it-all, two-way role that's led him to become the NCAA's only player to average at least 5 assists, 8 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per 40 minutes. An 18-year-old from Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino, California, Melton didn't even crack the RSCI Top 200 out of high school and wasn't expected to make this type of impact in his first year with USC .

While he has a ways to go in terms of his ball-handling, lead guard skills, and shooting stroke, and certainty needs more time and experience before he's ready to play in the NBA, Melton has caught the attention of scouts thanks to his impressive physical tools, sharp defensive instincts and strong feel for the game.

The talent is unmistakable. Melton is a bit undersized for what Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens prefer, but at a lower-end rookie salary, he may be a partial remedy if salary cap woes become a real issue this summer. One of our frequent readers may have mentioned Melton as a possibility for the Celtics in this draft. If my memory is correct, I can understand why.

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Photo via Rhonda Churchill/AP Photo
Video via DraftExpress