October 21, 2012

On Basketball: First-rounder Melo may develop in Portland

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

BOSTON - From the 2012 NBA draft, the Boston Celtics picked two first-rounders -- power forward Jared Sullinger of Ohio State and center Fab Melo of Syracuse.

MENS BASKETBALL
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Fab Melo, who started playing basketball when he was 15, can score but was a defensive force at Syracuse.

Courtesy Photo

Sullinger has been the pleasant surprise of the preseason and will be in the rotation, if not a starter.

Melo? Look for him in Portland.

Melo, 22, won't be assigned a permanent spot on the Maine roster, but as the sole D-League affiliate of the Celtics, the Red Claws can receive up to three NBA players from Boston from time to time during the season.

It's very likely Melo will travel a lot, either on the road with either team or commuting from Boston to Portland.

"I can't tell you anything about that," Melo said last week about playing for the Red Claws. "But if that's what I have to do, I'll do it. I don't think it's a bad thing, for me to keep developing."

Melo, 7 feet, 255 pounds, is considered a raw talent, not ready for NBA competition but with the potential to be a force. A Brazilian, he didn't take up basketball until he was 15.

At Syracuse last year, Melo averaged only 7.8 points and just under six rebounds per game. He was an intimidator on defense, blocking 88 shots in 30 games.

Melo played for Jim Boeheim and his 2-3 zone defense. Playing defense in the NBA is another story.

"I just have to focus on getting better," Melo said. "Got to be able to defend the screens and things like that."

On offense, Melo wants to cut down his turnovers.

He may not get much of a chance to improve his game at TD Garden (in the first six preseason games, he's averaged 5.5 minutes).

But at the Portland Expo, Melo can work on getting his game up to NBA speed.

And Red Claws fans can watch the big man develop.

BOSTON'S THIRD PICK from the 2012 draft, guard/forward Kris Joseph, also of Syracuse, could be another candidate for the Boston-Portland shuttle.

Joseph, 23, appeared to have his spot on the roster secured when the Celtics released guards Jamar Smith and Dionte Christmas last week. He has impressed Boston with his potential more than his performance.

"You could see the ability there," Coach Doc Rivers said. "We look at a lot of things when we decide to keep a guy or not keep a guy.

"We like what he can potentially can do, but he hasn't done anything yet."

Joseph, who is averaging 7.3 minutes in the preseason, did show a little something Thursday night in Brooklyn, scoring 11 points in 12 minutes.

AS FOR JAMAR SMITH, the Red Claws still hold his D-League rights but he told the team he's looking at his options.

Another former Red Claws player, 6-5 guard Xavier Silas, was released last week by the Philadelphia 76ers. He played a total of four minutes.

Silas averaged 9.8 points for Maine last year. There's no word on where he plans to play this season.

RAHEEM SINGLETON, the former University of Maine guard who attended a Red Claws tryout last month in Waltham, Mass., was invited to preseason camp.

Singleton broke the news by (what else?) Twitter, announcing "God is good. Just signed my first pro contract. Maine Red Claws training camp, here I come."

RED CLAWS individual tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. Wednesday. The home opener will be Nov. 30.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH

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