Second-Round Candidate: Melvin Frazier
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ID CARD: 6-foot-6 wing, Tulane, junior, 21 years old
DRAFT RANGE: Ranked 31st by ESPN.com; 31st by SI.com; 12th among wings by NBA.com
SCOUTS LOVE: Frazier projects as a classic 3-and-D wing type who took a step in the last of his three college seasons toward becoming a legitimate threat from the 3-point arc. After hovering in the mid to high 20s from 3-point range in his first two college seasons, Frazier hit at 38.5 percent on 3.0 attempts per game as a junior for the Green Wave, where he was coached the past two seasons by longtime NBA player and coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. Frazier’s best end of the floor, though, still figures to be defense. Frazier fared well at the NBA draft combine and strikes a physical profile – long and rangy – that in combination with his affinity for playing defense will make him an attractive commodity on draft night.
SCOUTS WONDER: Is there enough of a ceiling on offense for Frazier to be more than a back-of-the-rotation defensive specialist? Frazier couldn’t lead his team to much success in the middle-of-the-road American Athletic Conference, where the Green Wave finished near the bottom at 5-13. He wasn’t the primary ballhandler, yet led the team in turnovers at 2.6 a game. He didn’t show much of an off-the-dribble game, either, though with development Frazier’s speed and athleticism should at least make him dangerous in transition and as a straight-line driver. Is he too slight, at 198 pounds, to effectively guard small forwards?
NUMBER TO NOTE: – 7-foot-1¾ – That’s Frazier’s wing span, with a standing reach of 8-foot-9 – crazy numbers for a wing defender but important for the disruptive potential to shooters, passers and cutters in an era where floor spacing is a critical underlying component of a successful offense.
MONEY QUOTE: “I like defending. I don’t really care about scoring. I like playing defense. I just know defense creates offense, so that’s what I like to do. Everybody likes to see somebody play defense because nowadays nobody really plays defense.” – Melvin Frazier at the NBA draft combine in Chicago last month
PISTONS FIT: With James Ennis an unrestricted free agent, the biggest immediate opening in the rotation is behind Stanley Johnson at small forward. While it’s not likely the new front office will bank on the No. 42 pick – that’s all the Pistons take into the June 21 draft – as the primary avenue to filling that void, a player with Frazier’s college experience and measurables could change their thinking.
BOTTOM LINE: If the Pistons went to the combine hoping to keep Frazier under wraps, they probably left disappointed. Frazier participated in five-on-five scrimmages on the first day but pulled out after an impressive showing, leading to some speculation about exactly what had been communicated to his agent regarding his draft status. Frazier’s rankings have begun to creep up in various media assessments, which might mean nothing but probably is a reflection of feedback based on his combine showing. It’s less than likely that Frazier would be available to the Pistons at 42, but he’d immediately become a top-tier contender to be the pick if he were.