Rockets Select 'Analytics Darling' De'Anthony Melton in 2018 NBA Draft

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2018

TULSA, OK - MARCH 19: De'Anthony Melton #22 of the USC Trojans reacts against the Baylor Bears during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at BOK Center on March 19, 2017 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets selected guard De'Anthony Melton with the 46th pick in the second round of Thursday's NBA draft. 

Melton, 20, averaged 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.9 steals in the 2016-17 season and is considered an "analytics darling," according to The Athletic's Sam Vecenie: 

USC determined he would have to sit out the 2017-18 campaign as a precautionary measure, however, after "federal prosecutors alleged that David Elliott, a close family friend of Melton's, received a $5,000 bribe in August to direct the player to use a would-be agent," according to Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times.

With that in mind, and amid the investigation into USC associate head coach Tony Bland in the FBI's larger probe of college basketball, USC "decided it did not want to risk possible forfeits if Melton played and the NCAA ruled extra benefits had been given in violation of NCAA rules."

Melton was never been publicly accused of wrongdoing by the authorities, however.

On the court, he has shown promise. As Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman noted, Melton "flashed enough glimpses of two-way playmaking and toughness" to make himself a legit prospect with "role-player and defensive potential."

ESPN's Mike Schmitz believes Melton has NBA upside and handled the USC situation well:

The major factor for Melton in his career likely will be the development of his perimeter shot. He made just 28.4 percent of his threes in his freshman season and only shot 70.6 percent from the free-throw line.

He should be able to develop into a solid role player, but if he's able to turn into a three-and-D option for Houston in the future, he should be able to become a valuable starter. 

That makes him one of this draft's potential sleepers, and Melton could look like the steal of the draft in years to come. 

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