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Who Is Fab Melo? Center Prospect or Head Case or Both?

Is his talent worth the question marks?
Is his talent worth the question marks?

Mock draft after mock draft pins Fab Melo to the Celtics with one of our first round picks. On a certain level it makes a lot of sense. He's a defensive minded center prospect and while he has his flaws, beggars can't be choosers with the 21st and 22nd picks. The question is, how many questions are there with this guy and is his talent worth those questions?

Here's the most straightforward synopsis that I've found and it isn't very complimentary.

2012 NBA Draft: Sorting Out The College Players - Behind the Basket - The Antidote for Conventional Wisdom

He’s a huge shot blocker with great size (7-feet-0, 255 lbs). Melo can make the few shots he takes (57% FG). Concerns: terrible rebounder, extremely raw non-factor on offensive sets, conditioning/legal/academic/attitude issues, very low hoops IQ, gets in foul trouble

Aside from the low hoops IQ, the terrible rebounder label concerns me. The last thing we need is more non-rebounding big men. For more details, let's look to Draft Express.

DraftExpress NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Fab Melo, Stats, Comparisons, and Outlook

Melo's ability to be active and physical has helped him on the glass as well. Though Syracuse still struggles on the defensive boards as a unit at times, Melo remains a capable area rebounder and has become a more significant factor on the offensive glass thanks to his improved motor. Lacking a natural feel for the game and usually being more focused on taking charges or chasing blocked shots in Syracuse's zone, Melo is not a very prolific defensive rebounder, though he does have soft hands and is improving his fundamentals. It will be interesting to see how much he can improve on this skill once outside of Syracuse's zone, as he simply isn't always in position to make a play here.

So, there's still some hope for his rebounding once he gets coached up on the NBA game - though I can't say that I'll hold my breath. So what about those off the court issues? Again, not very encouraging.

Green Street " NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Syracuse C Fab Melo

Melo made enormous strides in his second season at Syracuse before being held out of three games in January due to an unspecified academic issue and then being ruled ineligible for the NCAA tournament. He also had a domestic violence issue in 2011. After breaking the turn signal on his girlfriend’s car, he was charged with criminal mischief. If he remains out of trouble through November, he’ll have a clean record. Melo, who grew up in Brazil, did not start playing competitive basketball until the ninth grade. He attended high school in Florida (near Miami) his junior and senior years.

Of course, as he goes on draft workouts and interviews, he's doing his best to explain some of this stuff away. For example:

2012 NBA draft -- Prospect Fab Melo explains problems with Syracuse Orange - ESPN

Melo was ruled academically ineligible for seven games last season, including the NCAA tournament, and now that he's making the rounds on the draft workout list, Melo is trying to answer NBA scouts. His explanation is simple: Until four years ago, the Brazilian didn't even speak English.

So, he's got the size to be a legit center in the NBA and he's still "raw" with "tremendous upside potential." But he's got a lot of red flags and some of our own CelticsBlog readers who follow Syracuse basketball are not impressed with him either.

Danny has been known to take on a guy with character questions (because their talent becomes undervalued and he can get them for cheap). Still, I'd argue that they are valued less because they can and often will become detrimental to the team and are in fact less valuable than a guy with less upside and more consistency.

All things considered, I'd probably pass on him, but what do I know? Should be an interesting draft.

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