After seeing Fab Melo’s somewhat lackluster performance at the Orlando Summer League, both offensively and defensively, the prevailing rhetoric seemed to be: “Well, the only way he turns out to be any good is if the Celtics vets mentor him.”
I usually hate this argument, mostly because it usually means nothing. A bad player, or a lazy one, is more often than not irreparable. For every success story, there are 30 Darko Milicic stories, players who played with high character guys and were unaffected. There is no way to quantify how much a player will learn from another player, in part because there is no way to quantify how interested they are in basketball.
But the argument takes a slightly different turn when discussing rookies. A rookie is still maleable. A rookie is still learning the game. Most rookies, especially those who aren’t top picks in the draft, look up to veterans and respect their advice as they attempt to navigate through their first few years in the league. So for a player like Melo, working with a certifiably crazy (and also certifiably genius) player like Garnett might be a match made in Help-Defensive Heaven.
So with all that in mind, here’s an extremely fun tidbit from The Boston Herald, reporting on the C’s first practice in Istanbul:
And no sooner had practice broke — the heavy stuff won’t be applied until tomorrow — than a bespectacled Garnett had Fab Melo over in one corner of the floor, attempting to teach the rookie the proper way to post up against an arm-barring defender.
Melo, his eyes glued to Garnett’s every move, has obviously passed the first test. KG wants to teach him.
Ohhhhh sweet joy. This is great news. Not only is Melo apparently putting in the extra work that rookies need to be productive players, but Garnett seems to have decided that Melo’s work ethic is worth the effort. I literally can’t think of another player in the NBA who I would rather have mentoring a player like Melo.
Later in the article, Rivers says that Melo is a project, and he’s absolutely right. The last time we saw Melo playing against (borderline) NBA talent, he was struggling to pick up on defensive switches and he was mostly useless on offense. But man, he’s huge. And huge is a good thing, if his work ethic is high enough.
Tangentially related: according to Fab’s Twitter account, he wouldn’t want to send his (hypothetical (I think)) daughter to Istanbul after seeing the Taken movies.
Take a bow, directors of the Taken movies. Mission accomplished. ‘Murica.