Okay, we’re another day closer to training camp, another day closer to the season starting, another day closer to when the games start to count and we get to watch Fab Melo sit and watch with the rest of us. No offense, but that’s the way it’s going down. I don’t want to hear about the strides Melo is making – he’s still young, raw, and hardly the type of player the Celtics can depend on when W’s and L’s hang in the balance. Yeah, there will be nights when the Celtics are blowing out a tired or undermanned opponent, and that’s when we’ll see Melo running the court and trying to get a feel for the NBA. But most nights, like those when the C’s play Miami or Philly or any other playoff-caliber team, Melo will likely sit and wait, collecting another ‘DNP – Coaches Decision’.
That’s not to say that Melo won’t eventually become a serviceable NBA big man. Or that he won’t see some action as a rookie. But let’s face it: Melo was drafted late in the first round because he’s a player with limited upside. If he had the potential to become the next Akeem Olajuwon or Patrick Ewing, Melo would have gone in the top five of the 2012 NBA Draft. Didn’t happen.
Sorry to throw cold water on the eve of training camp, but facts are facts. Melo has no offensive repertoire to speak of. He’ll clean up missed shots and take out the garbage. He’ll be a big banger on defense. We’ve seen it a million times in this league, and it is what it is.
The real question is this: Did Danny Ainge waste a draft pick on a player who may become the next Acie Earl? If so, then don’t expect Melo’s stay in Boston to last long.
If Melo’s footwork is as good as advertised, and if he’s the quick and studious learning the blogs are harping about, then Melo has a chance to become a valuable rotation player. Maybe not this season, but in a season or two.
But I’m skeptical.
Why? Big men with offensive skills usually have that talent within them. You can see flashes of it here and there, and you know it’s only a matter of time. Number 1 pick Anthony Davis is a prime example. Give him time and he’s going to be a handful in the low post. But Melo? He looks mechanical out there, like he’s thinking about each and every step he takes. Not a good sign if you ask me.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope Melo blossoms into the best center in the league. We all win if that’s the case. But I’m not betting the farm on it. I’m not holding my breath waiting for it.
I’ll just keep watching for signs of improvement during pregame warmups, and I’ll assess as best I can when Melo is collecting his garbage-time minutes. The rest of the time I’ll watch fellow rookie Jared Sullinger, who does have a natural knack for offense, as he plays meaningful minutes and helps the Celtics win right away.
Only difference between me and Melo? I’ll do it in front of my TV, or from my seats at the Garden, while Melo does it from his usual spot on the bench.