Standing between Fab Melo and Kevin Garnett are almost 21 feet, 800 pounds, and 30 years of NBA experience. For the rookie out of Syracuse to see playing time, he'll have to leap frog Darko Milicic, Jason Collins, and Chris Wilcox. It's a daunting task for a guy that's only been playing basketball for a handful of years. All three of them have come to camp ready to contribute with their variety of skills whereas Melo is still somewhat of an unknown commodity. Today, Mike Gorman and Brian Scalabrine talked about the prospect of him spending time in the D-League with the Maine Red Claws.
After conversations with Danny and "other guys" (I don't know if that means the players or coaches or both), Scal gets a sense that Melo will spend some time banging it out up I-95. On one hand, I like the idea. He's raw and just getting minutes under his belt will help him improve as a basketball player in general. Sending players to the Celtics Triple-A affiliate worked with Avery Bradley in his rookie year as he recovered from ankle surgery and for what it's worth, JaJuan Johnson and E`Twaun Moore never spent time in Maine and it's possible that that may have stunted their development a little. The best thing for young players is just to play sometimes, regardless of who the competition is. Frankly, after watching Melo struggle a little to adjust to the speed and defensive schemes of the NBA during summer league play, the Red Claws might be a better option than the Celtics right now.
However, as much as playing time might help mold Melo, that may or may not help him become a better Celtic. Celtics practices have a reputation of being very competitive and Fab might learn quicker if he's under the watchful eyes of Doc Rivers and more importantly, Kevin Garnett. Sure, when November rolls around, all their focus will be on the Miami Heat and the regular season, but there's something to be said for the osmosis value of just being around the team. Two years ago, guys like Luke Harangody and Semih Erden benefited greatly from being rookies hanging out and practicing with vets and when their number was called up, they were ready to contribute. The D-League isn't exactly basketball Siberia, but it is over 100 miles away from TD Garden and the teammates he's developing chemistry with right now.