Mar 9, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange center Fab Melo (51) drives to the basket as Cincinnati Bearcats guard Dion Dixon (3) gives chase during the first half of the semifinals of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

NBA Draft Recap: Will Fab Melo Evolve into a Decent Pro?

Fab Melo was ruled ineligible, for mysterious circumstances that never became completely clear, and that held him out of the NCAA tournament. That might have been the beginning of his fall, and after taking Jared Sullinger at pick 21, the Celts took another sleeper at 22 in Melo.

Fab Melo comes with a lot of question marks, but most players in the late first round do. I wrote of those question marks, but also what he could bring to the team back on May 9th. He has very little offensive game, a low basketball IQ, and is prone to lapses, times when he just disappears from the court. He’s also known for having problems with foul trouble.

But none of that should matter initially.

The Celtics didn’t draft Melo to start at center from day 1 (though he could), and Melo will take time to polish and develop.

But his upside?

I compared Melo to a young Samuel Dalembert — a defensive game changing presence who can be counted upon to finish off garbage baskets and alley oops. He won’t be an All-Star (though anything is possible, *ahem*, Jamaal Magloire), but should develop into a capable NBA big man, one capable of starting eventually, should the team situation require it.

Will it end the headaches at center for the Celtics? That’s tough to say. It’s also tough to say what GM Danny Ainge will do for the remainder of the off season. Many feel the Celtics should rebuild, especially with Ray Allen being courted by the NBA Champs and Kevin Garnett sure to command a big contract, whether he re-signs or not. Those questions need to be answered before we even have any idea of how Melo (or Sullinger) will fit into the picture.

But right now, that might not be the most important thing. Project NBA big men do take time, and he fits the bill of a project player. His athleticism alone should be enough to give him a career, even as a backup, but whether he can be more than that is a matter of opinion at this point, with so little to base it on, with only a college career spent playing against smaller players, even in the rugged Big East.

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