With the 22nd pick in the 2012 NBA Draft the Boston Celtics selected Fab Melo, a 22-year-old center out of Syracuse that lacks great feel for the game of basketball but has every athletic tool you would want an NBA big man to possess.
The Celtics drafted him knowing that he was a very big project, and that it would require some time to truly develop him into a serviceable center in the NBA. However his size, length and athleticism were enough for Boston to determine that he had potential to be a contributor to the team in the future.
Many fans were disappointed with his start in the D-League where, before Saturday, he had only averaged 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game playing for the Maine Red Claws. This disappointment was really due to a lack of understanding in the type of player that Melo was when he entered the league.
In an interview with ESPN, Doc Rivers admitted that it was going to take Melo some time to develop since he hasn't really played basketball for that long, but that he believed the D-League would give him that opportunity to improve his game.
Celtics fans will be glad to see that Melo has taken a great step forward in his development by posting an extremely dominant performance in the Maine Red Claws' game against the Erie Bay Hawks on Saturday. Melo posted a triple-double by recording 15 points, 16 rebounds and 14 blocks, which, according to NBA.com, is a new NBA D-League record for blocks in a single game.
Melo has always been known as a great shot-blocker, but it was impressive to see him take control of the boards and show a bit stronger of an offensive performance around the basket. He is beginning to already show great development with the Red Claws, as he is finding better positioning under the basket to take advantage of his athleticism in order to crash the boards and he is using his size to create better shots.
Even though Melo put together a very impressive performance this weekend for the Maine Red Claws, he will still need more time in the D-League to develop his game to a level that will allow him to contribute for Boston. He already has a great feel on defense as a shot-blocker, but he still needs to get used to the speed of the game to be an overall effective defensive player. In addition he has yet to really learn the best ways to get proper positioning in order to take advantage of his size when rebounding in the paint.
The Boston Celtics should be extremely happy with his performance this weekend, and perhaps it is a sign that Melo is taking his first steps in developing into a serviceable center at the NBA level. Fans should keep a close eye to see how Melo plays in the upcoming weeks, as an increase in overall performance on a consistent basis could lead to a call-up to the Celtics if the team feels a need for more depth in the front court.
Even if we don't see Fab Melo in a Celtics jersey in the near future, it is great to see him put forth a performance that reflects his true potential.