The 2018 season was supposed to be a year of significant growth for De’Anthony Melton, a high-motor, high-IQ point guard prospect. Instead, he sat out from a NCAA rules violation.
A 3-point shot has become something of a prerequisite for playing almost any position in the modern NBA. But especially for point guards.
No matter how good an initiator prospect is at everything else — playmaking, defending, rebounding, hustling, cutting — if he cannot force defenses to respect his shot, there will be skepticism surrounding his potential impact.
Evaluating De’Anthony Melton is a microcosm of that phenomenon.
During his lone season with the USC Trojans, he shot an ugly 28 percent on 74 3-point attempts. His mechanics were just as ugly, employing a catapult-like two-motion release that would make Michael Kidd-Gilchrist blush.
Maybe that is a little harsh. But the aesthetics were not there, and the results were far away too. It was a key area for improvement heading into this season and he never got to show the progress, if any, he made.
Given the improvement trajectory, Melton had already shown going from completely off NBA radars (not cracking the RSCI top 200 out of high school) to a likely first-rounder, it should surprise no one that the glimpses we have seen of his changed mechanics look promising.
But even without the jumper, Melton has been an impressive player. He is arguably this year’s best defensive prospect on the wing, using his IQ and anticipation to jump passing lanes for deflections and his wingspan and athleticism to lock opponents up on the ball. Melton is also an instinctual cutter with good offensive feel.
His package of wingspan, defense, IQ and athleticism should make him an attractive selection for any team, but especially for an Orlando Magic front office that has historically valued all of those things and should also be seeking a point guard.