Draft preview: Fab Melo

June, 21, 2012
video Fourth in a nine-part series analyzing our top NBA draft choices for the Dallas Mavericks at No. 17 on June 28. We will look at one prospect a day leading up to the draft. ESPN.com Insider Chad Ford and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's and Mavs play-by-play man Chuck Cooperstein provide the inside goods. The order is alphabetical.

If draft position was based on name alone, this Syracuse 7-footer would be No. 1, hands down.

Although very much a developing talent, his size and athletic ability will likely line him up somewhere in the mid-to-late first round. He'll likely be around to make the Mavs at least entertain the idea of taking on this raw big man.

There are two keys here, and those are "raw" and "big man." The Mavs need a big man, especially one that can hit the boards and help anchor the defense, particularly if Brendan Haywood has played his final game in Dallas. As for the raw aspect, Dallas will have to decide if it has the patience to see it through at a time when a competent complement to Dirk Nowitzki, now 34, is crucial.

Also remember that he was ruled academically ineligible for the NCAA Tournament, severely damaging the Orange's bid for a national championship. He later defended himself by saying that he didn't even speak English until four years ago.

[+] EnlargeFab Melo
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIFab Melo has size and raw ability, but he is still a project that will take time to develop.
There have been some glowing reports from his team workouts, but to a large degree, this selection is a buyer-beware proposition.

Here's a look at our next draft prospect:

School: Syracuse (2 years)
Position: C
Age: 22
Ht./Wt.: 7-foot/255
2011-12 stats: 7.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.9 bpg

Why he would fit: The Brazilian is tall, long and strong. He can rebound and swat shots, and that's exactly what the Mavs need under the basket.

Why he wouldn't fit: He's extremely raw and might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, which can frustrate any coach. The Mavs, who worked him out this week, might be more comfortable taking a more polished product as they try to remain a contender in Nowitzki's twilight years.

Chad Ford's thumbs up, thumbs down: Up -- Big, physical center ... Long arms, pretty mobile ... Good rebounder and shot-blocker ... Tough defender. Down -- Very, very raw offensively ... Weak basketball IQ.
ESPN's Fran Fraschilla breaks down the NBA draft and the players that could be on the Mavericks' radar.

Listen Listen
Coop's comment: He’s big. He can block shots. However, he is a very poor defensive rebounder, an area which he has to improve (and the Mavericks, as a team do, as well). It’s rare that players become great rebounders. Either they have the skill or they don’t. Nowitzki was an exception to the rule. And also, playing in the 2-3 zone at Syracuse, he’s never really had to guard anyone one-on-one in the post. A major project.

Previous prospects
Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Meyers Leonard, Illinois
Kendall Marshall, North Carolina



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Dirk Nowitzki
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
ReboundsS. Dalembert 6.8
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.2