PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 11: (L-R) Kris Joseph #32 and Fab Melo #51 of the Syracuse Orange talk as they walk on the court against the Villanova Wildcats at the Wells Fargo Center on January 11, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
There are plenty of question marks surrounding Fab Melo's impending NBA career, and rightfully so. While at Syracuse, Fab really went through the ringer of on the court performance and off-the-court controversy. Few players that I've seen have coupled the highs and lows of Fab's on-court presence with both legal, academic, and whatever other problems we're not privy to, off the court.
While declaring for the NBA was really a no-brainer for Fab because of all of the off-the-court drama from this year, we are still looking at a total project player who is relatively new to this country, may have some maturity and drive issues (which is something that is not unique of Fab among 21 year olds), and is about to become a multi-millionaire in a large American city.
Luckily for Fab, there are few situations in the league that can better prepare him and mold him for a successful professional career than the Boston Celtics.
Boston is both a team that has a major hole open at the center spot, which Fab can step in to if he really continues to improve and shows he belongs on the court, and has tremendous leadership from the team's veterans and coaching staff. If anyone can whip Fab into shape and set him on a path for a successful career, it is Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers. In other towns with lesser leadership, we might have seen Fab spending seven nights a week at the dive bar of his choice, but I believe that Garnett, Pierce, Rivers, and the rest of the team will make sure he stays on the straight and narrow and focuses on becoming a great player. Fab doesn't have to worry about academics anymore, so basketball should really be ahead of everything else for him now.
The selection of Kris Joseph also helps.
While Kris is going to need to work hard in his own right to make the Celtics roster, having him, someone who has known Fab for the better part of his basketball career, who knows the issues that Fab has had in the past, around can only help. Kris was one of the leaders here at SU, and I believe that he should help be a steadying influence for Fab as he transitions to the NBA. While most have cited Kris' role in Boston as "solid practice player" and "designated shooter", if he can help keep Fab in check, the Celtics' second round pick will be that much more valuable.
While rooting for Fab is a real debate from the Syracuse prospective, at the end of the day he's always going to be connected with our school, for better or worse, and if he plays well, we'll see most Syracuse fans accepting him. As much as we hate to admit it, we really need a secondary star in the league after Carmelo Anthony. Jonny Flynn and Wes Johnson have both had disappointing careers thus far, Hakim Warrick is a solid player but a total journeyman bench player, and Donte Greene's future is uncertain. While Dion Waiters is the obvious choice, Fab may have even more potential to be a great pro. Unfortunately, potential is the name of the game for Fab, and he's had issues unleashing it in the past. However, if any franchise is built to cultivate the player that Fab Melo can be, it is Boston.