There are three (likely) other rookies to project this season. Four rookies normally would seem like too much inexperience but that was alleviated by moving the two second year draftees (and second year is expansive considering they had no summer leagues, no camp to speak of, about a half dozen real practices during the season, and 628 minutes cumulative between them) and losing Stiemsma in free agency. Personally however I am elated to see cheap young talent developing at the end of the bench rather than cheap fading veterans finishing their decay at the bottom of the roster. This second tier of rookies have some especially exciting qualities not typical of players found as late as the Celtics usually draft.
Dateline: August 13, 2012––48 days until the start of training camp!
We’ve come to expect undersized and lacking athleticism to be automatic tags for players available when Boston selects. Fab Melo has excellent size at center and moves with the grace you would \expect from a former soccer player. His deficit is being exceptionally raw–late to basketball and English, having all his college experience in a zone defense, and flashing only glimpses of offensive skills beyond jamming the ball. On the surface it is hard to project him blossoming this year but there are moments when he gives signs that while polish might be a while coming, he may have some things to contribute in months rather than years.
The dream projection for Fab Melo, like it was for Sullinger, supposes that the leap to professional athlete (and the discipline, hunger, and dedication that requires) is well underway even as we speak. Two months of serious conditioning, nutrition, and weight training would hopefully bring Fab to camp able to make it up and down the court and still retain energy to absorb coaching. What is so tantalizing were the moments in summer league like the touch pass as he fielded a pass diving down the lane, the deft catch and jam without traveling that included a turn at full speed avoiding a defender, the pass to Jared low from the high pivot, and a standing jumper that seemed completely in rhythm. That movement and passing lane awareness from soccer suggests that his relative lack of basketball experience may not retard his fitting into the flow of offense, hopefully sooner rather than later
I’m afraid my best case for Fab is spot minutes on defense early in the season, rapid progress through intense work with a big man coach, lots of minutes in Maine, and meaningful contributions in the spring. In this scenario he pushes Collins out of any playing time as Boston hits the playoffs. Perhaps the homerun is his contributions allow Garnett to take off the second of back-to-backs in the second half of the season. These relatively subdued expectations don’t mean that I won’t watch every play of the preseason hoping he makes my projections seem a horrible undervaluation.
Tomorrow, the surprising value of late pick Kris Joseph.
Boston, and all points beyond