When the Boston Celtics drafted Fab Melo, I think my first reaction was, “WHY NOT PERRY JONES!?!?” If one of you really wants, you could go back on my Twitter timeline and probably see a minor freak out (or a near-heart attack, one or the other), mostly because I understood Melo needed plenty of time to develop. He only started playing basketball about five years ago, he averaged just 7.8 points per game in college last year, and he has essentially never played man-to-man defense prior to this season, certainly a detriment to his hopes for producing at the NBA level this year.
I eventually sold myself on Melo, for obvious reasons: “He’s tall! He can run! He was voted the NBA’s funniest rookie!” But he’s going to take time. And the Celtics know that, so he’s likely to spend a lot of time with the Maine Red Claws this season. (ESPN Boston)
“We like what we’ve seen in Fab so far in practice in September when he was here before the season,” Danny Ainge said during an appearance on WEEI. “Fab puts in his work, he’s working hard in the weight room. We need to get him stronger, and Fab is a late bloomer in basketball. He took up the game late and he’s got a lot to learn about the game itself. He has good athletic instincts, but he does need to learn about execution, both offensively and defensively … we hope to get Fab to Portland, Maine [with the Red Claws of the D-League] and get a lot of playing time this year and a lot of individual instruction. We see him as a guy that could be a contributing center, even a starting center, in this league at some point in his career.”
Melo playing in the D-League can’t hurt — he’s not ready to help the Celtics, anyway. Anybody who saw him (and his impressive stream of airballs) during the preseason knows he needs a lot of seasoning before becoming ready for NBA minutes, especially on a contender. He needs to learn more about defense, about pick-and-roll coverage and all that jazz. He needs to take a few deep breaths and settle down offensively. He needs time to play, to learn, to improve.
Early signs are that Melo is willing to put in the necessary work. But there’s still a lot of work left to do.