2012 Draft Profile: Fab Melo
Editor’s Note: Throughout the month of June, Timberwolves.com will profile a series of prospects that could be available at Minnesota’s No. 18 pick during the 2012 NBA Draft on June 28. Part two details the athletic Fab Melo, a center for Syracuse who was named Big East Defensive Player of the Year.
PROSPECT: Fab Melo
WEIGHT: 275 lbs
PROJECTION: late first-round
THE LAST TWO YEARS
Fabricio de Melo ("Fab" for short) was born in Brazil but played his high school ball in Florida. He came into Syracuse as one of the better centers in his high school class, as he already showed NBA size and athleticism. His flaws were exposed early on in college, and Melo averaged less than 10 minutes per game in his freshman year.
The Syracuse coaches knew that the young center would be a project. In his sophomore year, head coach Jim Boeheim and his staff saw great improvement from Melo, as he made strides in scoring, rebounding, blocking and free throw percentage. He led the Big East in blocks per game and was named the conference's Defensive Player of the Year, although an academic issue left him ineligible for the NCAA Tournament.
Despite an offensive game that is still developing, the most appealing thing about Melo is his rapid improvement. After a freshman year that definitely raised some eyebrows, he came in as a sophomore and did better in almost every statistical category along with drastically improved conditioning. Standing a legitimate seven feet, Melo combines a 7'3" wingspan on a 270-pound frame to create a truly imposing defensive presence. With more training, some see him as a valuable asset defending some of the NBA's true big men. He has a limited but decent array of scoring options around the rim, and he is perfectly comfortable doing the dirty work on the low block. This is not a big man who will frustrate you by shooting out-of-range jump shots. NBA scouts see an athletic, defensively-minded big man with lots of potential.
Melo has all the physical tools, but his professional future rides on whether or not he can refine his offensive game and stay in shape. He deserves credit for coming into his sophomore season in much better running shape, but he is still not the kind of athlete who is suited for a fast break. His offensive game has been described as "painfully predictable" and "mechanical." It's also a fairly big concern that his rebounding numbers weren't better in college, especially with the frame that he has. NBA teams will definitely ask questions in the interview process about his academic issues and a domestic violence charge.
WHAT HE CAN BRING TO THE WOLVES
With Brad Miller retiring and Darko Milicic's future up in the air, the Wolves could end up awfully thin at center. Kevin Love is best suited at power forward, so that leaves Nikola Pekovic to man the middle. A developmental backup could be the pick at No. 18, and Melo would benefit from a few seasons of going up against Pekovic and Love in practice.