Fab Melo is keeping busy these days, assigned to the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League and tasked with improving his post game. The timetable for any sort of call up hasn’t been discussed, and Melo is clearly in the right place to hone his game. Of course, honing his game at Syracuse would have been a good idea as well, but Melo, like any other uber-tall, uber-athletic hoops star, opted to cash in on his prodigious talent while the cashing was good.
Never mind that Melo wasn’t ready for the NBA – he wasn’t – and that the Celtics didn’t need a player they could stash away and develop for the next three years – they didn’t – it was a case of Melo declaring himself NBA material and the Celtics needing bigs in a big way.
Call it a shotgun marriage of sorts.
And while both sides are clearly trying to make the best of it for now, only time will tell if Melo can make the most of his gifts and help the Celtics with his low post game.
If you’ve been paying attention, the Red Claws have already played a couple of games, and Melo hasn’t exactly filled out the stat sheet. Is this a cause for concern, or simply an adjustment period as Melo continues to learn how to play the game of basketball?
Before you get too down on Melo, remind yourself to keep things in the proper perspective. It wasn’t that long ago that Melo wasn’t playing basketball. He picked up the game late, and now he’s trying to make up for lost time. So no, Melo isn’t going to set the world on fire anytime soon. He does need time to grow into the player he’s going to be, whether that is an All-Star caliber big or just another big.body who bangs.
Either way, the D-League is an important first step. Two games in, the stats scream banger. He’s not the natural scorer that Jared Sullinger is, and he doesn’t have the natural feel around the rim, either. Watching Melo is like watching someone trying to play piano for the first time – he’s so focused on the notes that he can’t be expected to producing real music.
At least not yet.
The main difference between Melo and your average NBA goon is that he has crazy athleticism. He can do things most men his size can only dream about.
And that is what gives Melo a real shot at making his mark in the NBA. Whether that actually happens is up to him. Only Melo can grow into the player he wants to become.
And the D-League is the perfect place for him to start.
Let’s just hope that Melo doesn’t get discouraged by the anemic box scores, because real growth isn’t going to be measured in points or rebounds at this stage in his development. What really matters is how he develops from a fluidity standpoint, and how he refines the aspects of his game that can only be described as crude. Only then can we begin to see what kind of player Melo will become.
We wait and we watch, and we promise we won’t be surprised if Danny Ainge sends Melo packing at some point, an asset that becomes part of a bigger trade to improve the team’s fortunes.
Hopefully it won’t come to that. Hopefully Melo works out and becomes a key piece of our future.
But right now, with Melo toiling in the D-League, I wouldn’t put money on it.
I’d rather watch his improvement from afar and hope for the best.