And...he's back. Glad to see he made it through the trade deadline.
The last time I saw the Red Claws, they were an elite D-League team. I stopped watching when Fab Melo stopped playing and got back after he did. Now they're barely staying afloat .500. Read into that what you will.
Andre Barrett is gone, which saddens me. Wish him luck.
Fab Melo has played two games with the Claws since his re-assignment, both against ERI (apparently a very talented D-League team).
I have gone back and re-watched the March 1st game and will catch up to tonight's game when I have the time.March 1st, ERI @ MNE
Melo had a big game notching 15 points, 13 rebounds, 5 blocks, a steal and 2 assists.
Our project big came out of the gates scorching, notching a double double (in points and rebounds) halfway through the second.
The second half was less spectacular as far as stat sheet stuffing goes but he continues to play immense defense.
Fab Melo's assignment today was one Henry Sims, a 2013 D-League All-Star. There was some buzz around the forum on this guy being a potential candidate to round out our roster. Sims has gotten the call up from the Hornets after this game. (I personally quite like the little I've researched on him. Seems like a Greg Smith to me.)
As per usual, most of the damage Henry Sims did was when Fab Melo was benched.
The game is a "both teams played bad, the one that made a run won" game.
Despite Melo's strong all round effort in the first half, Maine ended with a sizable deficit in the break. The second half was all Chris Wright as NBA-hopeful led the huge Red Claw run and capped off the night with the game sealing tip.What Melo did:
At the start, Melo looked far more assertive and confident, night and day from a month ago.
He seemed to be a lot more certain of the schemes in the half court setting as he RAN to his spots rather than bumbling around.
As per usual, his defensive presence is immense. See previous posts for elaboration.
He is crashing those boards. He does not look Sully-like when he does it in that his positioning may be a bit off at times but he is using his towering length and athleticism a lot more than before. Having talked about his positioning, I saw that he's trying a lot harder now to be in the right place, which certainly pays off thanks to his large frame.
Melo's assertiveness also showed in his passing. The 2 assists should really be 4 or 5 if not for botched layups and fumbles. He connected on passes from the high post, one give and go on top of creating from the post. I was definitely impressed by this aspect of his game.
Finally, in the scoring front, he connected on several hook shots and a couple of face up jumpers. Again, he looks confident doing it.
Towards the end of the game, there was a sequence where Melo almost lost the game after a series of mistakes. I see this as an issue of conditioning.Observations and Conclusions:
The one month stint with the team has definitely helped.
Melo seems to have his head in the game a lot more now and looks a lot more like a professional athlete than he was before. He worked hard before but, now, it seems like he's not afraid to tread on some toes doing his job. Good.
Apart from maximizing his time in the D-League, Ainge and co. may want to look at giving him more call up opportunities, especially as the season winds down and garbage minutes pile up as playoff seedings are set. Pushing Melo a little to adjust the NBA pace with garbage time and/or practicing with the team seems to really have paid off.
I hope Melo realizes that he needs to continue DOMINATING and not be complacent.
Having said that, Melo going all in tonight really exposed his need for conditioning.
The second half had him reverting to his former, less aggressive self a little.
The final stint of turnovers Melo had, to me, really confirmed that he was tired (rather than him being a truly bad decision maker).
Sitting Chris Wright also contributed to the mini-meltdown, in my opinion, as the rest of the team struggled (Jeremiah Rivers was especially bad as he put up nothing on the scoreboard in 20 minutes). A tired Melo cannot carry the offensive load.Here are a few Melo highlights from the game:Fab ABUSES the mismatch, one of my favorite plays from him this game.Huge rebound...even though it didn't end up with points, this shows how much the practices have helped.Great pass by Fab Melo after a PHYSICAL pick. Runs straight to the post and finds Wright for the easy jam
. On the ensuing possession, he almost connects on another one.First bucket is a very confident bank shot. Melo attacks the offensive boards again, something I love seeing.Again, the confidence he has now really shows as he connects on another pass.