De'Anthony Melton Wants To Do The Little Things
This piece does not reflect the views of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Freshman (2016-17), USC
6’4, 190 lbs.
College Stats in 2016-17:
36 games, 27.0 MPG, 8.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.9 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 43.7 FG%, 28.4 3P%, 70.6 FT%
Where he’ll go:
Melton will be a late first-round or early second-round pick.
De’Anthony Melton is a risk, there’s no question about it, but if he’s taken in the late first round or early second, he might end up a draft-day steal. Melton could be a truly elite NBA defender, but he’s not quite strong enough yet, and his offensive game has a long way to go.
This is an odd way to put it, but Melton’s mind is way ahead of his body when it comes to defense. But that could be a good thing. The 20-year-old guard’s fundamentals are solid, and he reads opposing offenses well. He has the ability to break up passes and get steals, and he knows where to be when. He’s also a good rebounder for his position, which helps him finish off defensive plays.
The question with Melton is if he can improve his strength and athleticism enough to effectively take advantage of his high defensive I.Q. It won’t help all that much in the NBA to know where to be if he can’t get there, and Melton is not yet an NBA-level athlete.
The biggest concern about Melton is his offense. He’s not a great shooter or ball handler, and he can’t really get his own shot. To be able to take advantage of his defensive upside, he needs to stay on the court. He can’t do that if he’s a liability on offense.
There’s also a little bit of a cloud surrounding Melton because of his proximity to the FBI’s investigation into college basketball. Though Melton said he never personally received any benefits, a close family friend of his received money and improper benefits from USC. Melton took the brunt of the punishment here, which is honestly a bit unfair. USC declared him ineligible as a precaution so that they wouldn’t have to forfeit any games he played in. Melton withdrew from USC in February to focus on preparing for the draft.
This meant that the NBA Draft Combine was the first chance NBA scouts had to look at him since the 2016-17 college season.
“I think it’s going to be very special what I do,” he said at the Combine. “Some things I do you can’t jot down. I’m a very instinctive and high-I.Q. player that some people may not have. I think that I help every team out and I can be that glue guy for any team.”
He’s not wrong. If Melton focuses on building up his body and doing the little things that his team needs off the bench, he could be a really solid NBA player. If he tries to do too much or gets frustrated and struggles to stay productive in a bench role, he might not stick in the league.