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Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Fab Melo

Discuss Draft Dreams on Twitter using the #DraftDreams hashtag


  • Measurables: 7-foot-0, 255 pounds, sophomore center from Syracuse
  • Key Stats: 7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.9 blocks per game, 57 percent shooting
  • Projected: Late first round to second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I like this guy

Disappointingly, eligibility issues prevented Fab Melo from playing in the NCAA tournament. Much has been made about the Syracuse zone defense (Reggie Miller learned his lesson for questioning it), but it was undeniably something to behold this season with Melo anchored right in the center of it. Syracuse funneled everything to the big man, and he was 11th in the country in blocked shot percentage at 12.93 percent.

Melo is still raw and developing, but a young big man with defensive instincts as natural as his doesn’t come along every day. Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn says it much better than I could:

Melo is simultaneously the Orange’s most obvious defensive force (by blocking 2.93 shots per game) and its secret weapon (by taking charges and creating turnovers).

Pros for the Pistons

Well, that’s obvious. The Pistons desperately need a defensive-minded big man to anchor their defense. He’s young, he blocks shots and, although like all young bigs he needs to get stronger, he comes with a big frame that should fill out as he matures physically. He protects the rim, but he’s also mobile enough to hedge out on screens, disrupt passing lanes and rotate to play help defense. I don’t have to tell anyone this I’m sure, but the Pistons haven’t had a big man who does all of those things for big minutes since Ben Wallace was in his prime.

But Melo also comes with a skill that is talked about less: he knows how to pass.  No one will confuse his passing with Greg Monroe, but because Melo lacks much of a post game on offense, he’s instead used to move without the ball, set screens and keep the ball moving. The Pistons aren’t necessarily looking for a dominant low post threat on offense, since Monroe more than capably fills that role. Melo could pair nicely with him on offense by feeding Monroe from the high post and making hard cuts to the basket, similar to how the Pistons used Chris Wilcox on offense during Monroe’s rookie year.

Cons for the Pistons

I’m not especially concerned about Melo’s inability to stay eligible at Syracuse, but if that does cause him to enter the draft early as some have reported, that could mean he may not be ready to contribute right away, which is really something the Pistons need with Wallace retiring and Charlie Villanueva‘s future in Detroit uncertain. Melo has the physical tools and upside that many teams will be interested, but he really could benefit from another year of college. His conditioning hasn’t been all that great, he could stand to add some muscle and his offensive game still lags far behind his defensive game. Those are all things that, if he returned, he could work on another year and possibly see himself jump into the lottery of next year’s draft.

Still though, if he’s around in the early second round, the Pistons shouldn’t hesitate to grab him.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

The Good: Melo has size, mobility and the ability to change things on the defensive end for Syracuse. He’s an excellent shot-blocker and a decent rebounder. He has a better perimeter game than you’d think. He’s made huge strides from his freshman year.

The Bad: He’s still very raw. He can disappear for long stretches. He’s struggled to stay in shape in the past.

The Upside: When Melo plays well, NBA scouts drool. He’s never going to be an NBA superstar, but teams are in desperate need of big men who can run the floor, block shots and play defense.


Not only has Melo been a better shot blocker, but he’s been a better defensive player across the board as a second-year player. Still losing contact with offensive players on the weakside leading to an occasional easy putback for the opposition, Melo is much more well-schooled at positioning himself on the defensive end than he was last year, doing a good job splitting the difference between offensive players when the ball gets driven into the paint, stepping in front of players attacking the rim to draw charges, and going straight up to challenge shots around the rim. Committing 2.6 fewer fouls per-40 minutes pace adjusted, Melo has shown dramatic improvement in the way he contests shots and protects the rim.


Fab has the size and length you look for in a prospect at the center position, however he’s raw and will need to work on every offensive aspect of his game … He has some basic post moves, but the fluidity/explosiveness in his execution is too slow at the moment …Will need to work on developing more in depth post moves to become more of an offensive threat … He’s not the greatest athlete, and can get lost in an offensive set as he adjusts to playing in a faster and more up-tempo game.

Sports Illustrated:

Melo does not have the Orange’s lowest DRating (that belongs to Waiters), but it’s clear that Melo has the biggest impact. His engagement rate, or DPoss%, of 26.1 is the highest on the team, and the fact that he’s able to maintain a strong DRating (86.5) while impacting so many plays is impressive. Syracuse’s entire 2-3 seems to take its cues from Melo. “The most important position in the zone is the center,” assistant coach Mike Hopkins said. “Fab protects the paint … he lets us be more aggressive on the perimeter, and he’s the eyes for the whole defense, talking and directing everyone else.

New York Times:

Although he is not a guaranteed first-round pick, some N.B.A. team will probably be interested in his 7-foot, 275-pound frame. If he does not make the N.B.A., Melo could return to his native Brazil to play professionally.

What is the best thing Fab Melo does for his team?

Sean Keeley (follow him on Twitter) is the founder of SB Nation Syracuse blog (and one of the best team blogs anywhere) Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician and the author of How to Grow an Orange:

Fab Melo is only just beginning to scratch the surface on his potential. As over-hyped as a player could ever be, Melo spent his freshman season adjusting to the college game and his sophomore season perfecting it. It remains be seen if he can bang bodies with the Dwight Howards of the NBA, but while be bulks up, he brings a tenacious defensive attitude with him. His outside shot is nonexistent but you’re not interested in him for that. You want him for his shot-blocking ability and above-average ability to move the ball from the center spoke of the wheel. He’ll need time to develop further but just like at Syracuse, Fab is an investment worth the risk.



  • Mar 19, 201210:36 pm
    by gmehl


    Yes, yes and yes. If Fab is available with our second round pick and Joe doesn’t take him then i will poke my eye out with a fork.

  • Mar 19, 201211:13 pm
    by RationalSportsFan


    Like most of your #draftdreams features, I would be fine with the Stones using a second round pick on Fabricio.

  • Mar 20, 20122:24 am
    by frankie d


    my local sportsbar is actually a syracuse bar. the owner is a syracuse grad and the bar is festooned with all kinds of syracuse paraphernalia. the owner is such a devotee that he just took his 8 month old child on a crosscountry trip so that he could see a game at the syracuse carrier dome and get a pic of his kid in a syracuse hat with the syracuse flags behind him.  he’s about as hardcore a syracuse fan as you’ll ever see.  we get along well, as there is a long history of detroit/syracuse connections, from dave bing to erich santifer to derrick coleman.  and others.
    but whenever i ask him about fab melo, he always is lukewarm and always….always says, initially, “he needs to get in shape…”
    that is the one thing about melo that is a serious concern. he was plain old fat until recently. and while he’s lost a lot of weight, he doesn’t have good definition, and he just looks like a former fat guy who just lost a lot of weight. now…it is great that a guy like that is still as good as he is, because he is an excellent college BB player, especially defensively. but, you have to wonder about a guy like him.   he is definitely just getting by on sheer natural athletic talent.
    but, take draymond green. he’s lost a lot of weight, and he still needs to lose more. but, you can tell, because he’s continued to work on his game and he’s gotten better, that he loves the game and that he’ll ultimately get his weight under control. despite the fact that he’s a chubster, he’s going to be very good.  
    there are lots of guys like that. heck, i love to eat also, and there have been times when i’ve been extremely active, but kept on eating and gained weight. it happens.  but some guys just figure that if they can lose that baby fat, get drafted high, they can go back to eating whatever they want and who gives a f–k. they’ve got their money and …whatever…
    unfortunately, there’s a long history of guys like that.  with melo, i worry because of this: yes, he’s lost some weight, but his game is pretty much the same. he’s better because of the lost weight, but he’s not shown that he’s worked hard on becoming a better BB player. and the concern, on this fan’s part, is that he’s just gone on a weight loss plan in order to get drafted and get a big payday and then he’s going to go on back to his old habits.
    he’s a tough one to figure out, and i don’t have a strong opinion about him either way. what i do know is that a guy who has watched every second of syracuse BB for the last 15 years is not sold on him and is not a big fan of fab melo.
    hopefully the pistons’ scouts will have a good handle on him.

    • Mar 20, 20127:16 am
      by gmehl


      Come on  Frankie are you kidding me. You are worried about the pistons drafting a guy that has had trouble managing his weight with there 2nd round pick yet every chance you get you go in to bat for Austin Daye who is the lightest player in the league. I agree that there is an element of risk with players like that (weight management) but if it’s with our 2nd rounder then that is a risk i am sure is worth it. Remember we drafted Daye with the belief that he would add muscle similar to the way Prince did but if I remember correctly he might even be lighter now. If we could get Fab with our second rounder then I say do it.

    • Mar 20, 20128:43 am
      by tarsier


      Does it really have to take you over 500 words to say that you have concerns about Melo’s weight/conditioning?

    • Mar 20, 20128:44 am
      by tarsier


      I mean, I know that sometimes I too struggle with being concise in my thoughts, but seriously?!?!

      • Mar 20, 201212:06 pm
        by frankie d


        funny…when i see certain commenters’ names, i don’t even bother to read anything they might offer.
        while i’m flattered that you choose to sort through what i have to offer, i promise my feelings won’t be hurt if you decide to bypass it.
        on melo…i’m just saying…
        big guys with weight problems rarely turn out well.
        the list of big guys who can’t push themselves away from the table is long and ignomonious.  
        for every craig smith or ricky mahorn there are 10 mel “dinner bell” turpins.
        i’d just be very, very careful with him.  
        now, if i’m convinced that he will keep his weight under control, i’d draft him.
        otherwise, i’d go in another direction. there are too many guys who will be available late first, early second to take a flier on a guy who is going to eat himself out of the league.
        jae crowder, andrew nicholson, bernard james, draymond green, ezeli, royce white…
        all of those guys will probably be available and most of them will probably be solid rotation guys – white may be the biggest gamble, because of his head – so i’d probably go in that direction, if i had any worries about melo’s weight.

        • Mar 20, 20128:16 pm
          by gmehl


          Point i was trying make was I would much rather take a flyer on a guy like Fab that was big and lost weight and has seen his game improve like his has than a stick creature like Austin Daye. Austin’s weight disappears like his jump shot. With Jerebko and hopefully Singular on the roster next year i am sure Joe will be happy to take a flyer on a 7ft 255 pound shot blocking key filler.

          • Mar 21, 20121:53 pm
            by frankie d

            i like him and think he can be a good player if he keeps his weight down.
            he reminds me of joel pryzbilla before pryzbilla got hurt.  
            my central point is that my friend has watched every single minute of BB melo has played for the ‘cuse and he has concerns about his weight.  melo wouldn’t be the first big guy who couldn’t keep his weight down.
            and in this draft, there are so many options who will turn out to be almost guaranteed pros – crowder for instance – that i might hesitate to take a flier on anyone that early in the draft.  maybe with the latter pick, but i’d be hesitant to draft him that high, unless i had a very strong conviction that his fat boy days were behind him.

    • Mar 20, 20129:07 am
      by vic


      considering how his game jumped when he lost weight. 
      And considering that as a pro he will be getting paid to play basketball and get in shape full time, and won’t have to worry about taking classes while being pimped by the NCAA.
      I think he’ll be okay.

  • Mar 20, 20128:41 am
    by tarsier


    Just out of curiosity, because it came up in the post on Festus, how do people feel about Melo vs Ezeli? I am strongly in the Melo camp.

    • Mar 20, 20129:18 am
      by vic


      I’m in the Melo camp too. 
      I think Ezeli has better post footwork, but Melo is a better shooter. (just my opinion)

      Melo is a lot younger, and is a better defender I believe. His block percentage is higher than Ezelis, Melo also seems to move faster on defense. (but he plays in a 2-3 zone).
      Ezeli’s rebound percentage is higher.
      Melo’s shooting percentage is higher.

      Melo is younger, but Ezeli only started playing in college, so I think they have similar levels of potential.

      Melo just seems quicker by observation and more efficient if you look at their usage and offensive and defensive ratings.


      I’d be happy with either one in the 2nd round.

  • Mar 20, 201211:47 am
    by steve battle creek, mi


    i would jump in the late 1st round for this guy if we dont get a big with lottery pick.   as davis, drummond and robinson will likely be gone by the 5-6 pick.   I would get barnes in this scenario then jump back in the late 1st round and grab melo! 

    • Mar 21, 201211:13 am
      by Esteban


      I doubt all 3 will be gone. Davis and Robinson likely will, but you have to look at what teams are looking for.

      Obviously, Davis is the first pick no matter what team. Which will likely be Charlotte. Beyond that, Washington and N.O. get the next picks. Washington kind of needs a scoring 3 to pair with wall so Barnes or MKG makes sense. N.O. needs everything but a 3 since they have Ariza tied up in the contract, so they likely go Robinson.

      Drummond will likely be there, Perry Jones will be there, Sulllnger will be there. It really depends on the lottery and where NJ (Por), Tor, Det, Sac, and Clev finish. If I had to look at these teams I would say the worst record will go to Sac because they’re west coast. Then, in order, Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland and NJ who acquired Wallace at the trade deadline will finish with a better than wanted record, but will give that pick to Portland.

      So my best guess is that we’re picking 5. We have 20 games left, and 13 of those are against playoff teams (including the bucks and knicks because they’re both making a push for that 8 seed).

      Drummond or Sullinger would be good in different ways complementing Monroe.

  • Mar 20, 20124:39 pm
    by Quick Darshan


    Fab Melo and Jae Crowder would be my top two options for the first second round pick.  I’m assuming that Patric Young and Tony Mitchell will be off the board (Melo might be off as well).

    For the first round pick, obviously Anthony Davis is the prize.  But, if the Pistons end up with the 7/8th pick, I’m hoping Henson is still on the board.

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