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NBA Draft

The Long Road Ahead For Melo Trimble

After dropping out of mock drafts for the second year in a row, Melo Trimble faces an unconventional road to the NBA.

Ben Nadeau

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All things considered, Melo Trimble is an incredibly accomplished college basketball player, but he’s currently faced with an uphill battle to make the NBA. One year after Trimble attended the Combine, pulled out after middling results and returned for his junior year at Maryland, not a whole lot has changed for the point guard, but he’s still chasing his dreams of playing professionally.

In 2016-17, Trimble led the Terrapins in scoring for the third straight season by posting 16.8 points per game, an average good enough for the fourth-best mark in the Big Ten. Trimble tallied 1,658 points in his collegiate career, placing him thirteenth in school history, and helped Maryland reach the NCAA tournament in every year he was there. So, why is Trimble not currently projected in any of the major mock drafts?

After his rough outing at the combine last year, Trimble tumbled out of mock drafts and he was advised to return to school. If Trimble could bounce back, hit his jump shot at a more consistent clip and defend a bit better, his former first round status could potentially be restored. While Trimble ultimately saw his points per game mark grow from 14.8 to 16.8, he averaged an assist less every contest and his shooting percentages only nominally improved. And without the month of March to interview on the big stage as Maryland flamed out in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Trimble was already at a disadvantage heading into combine season.

Even worse, he’s a year older, now checking into his pre-draft workouts at 22 years-old. In today’s NBA landscape, without impressive measurables or diamond-in-the-rough potential, players that much older are lottery tickets many general managers just aren’t buying these days. Certainly, there are some shortcomings in Trimble’s game — he’s prone to overdribbling and his defense has never been game-changing — but he’s coming off an All-Big Ten first-team selection and is now searching for answers before June’s draft.

General managers’ jobs (and overarching legacies) depend on them unearthing a prodigal superstar, not another serviceable role player. Since the emergence of players like Kristaps Porzingis and Giannis Antetokounmpo, two relatively unknown entities headed into the draft, the league has obsessed over finding the next big thing. Which is why prospects like Terrance Ferguson, who averaged just 4.6 points in 15 minutes per game for the Adelaide 36ers in 2016-17, is a near lock for the first round come June. According to scouts, Ferguson has elite potential as a defender and a three-point shooter, so, at the age of just 18, onlookers have started to drool.

Of the thirty players selected in last year’s first round, only eight of them were not freshman, sophomores or overseas prospects. Unfortunately, franchises aren’t willing to pass up a scratch ticket in order to draft a player that may have already hit his ceiling, for better or for worse.

And now, it’s why Trimble finds himself on the outside looking in despite another generally well-received season at Maryland. Trimble slipped from a potential first round selection to a mid-second rounder and then out entirely last season after an underwhelming combine showing. Thursday, Trimble cited that his pre-draft confusion derailed his audition in 2016.

“During the process, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” Trimble said. “I just learned that I wasn’t prepared for the mental stage. I wasn’t strong-minded and wasn’t ready for criticism. I was young and I was still deciding whether I wanted to go back to not.

“I was just confused on what I wanted to do and I brought that negative energy when I was here.”

For Trimble, his second-time declaration for the draft may have hurt him in the long run. Trimble has since said that his focus on exams factored into that poor combine showing — and why he’s currently put academics on hold leading up to the draft — but the damage may already be done. Undoubtedly, his decision to return to Maryland to re-raise his draft standing hasn’t worked out, but it’s hard to believe that Trimble may not be selected at all.

Still, there’s plenty of precedence for older drafted players succeeding in the NBA, looking back no further than last year’s draft. Malcolm Brogdon was the No. 36 overall selection in 2016, falling to the second round despite being named the ACC Player of the Year, NABC Defensive Player of the Year and a Consensus All-American. Brogdon turned 24 years old in December, but by that point, he was well on his way to a successful, playoff-bound campaign for the Milwaukee Bucks and emerged as a frontrunner for Rookie of the Year honors.

Certainly, defensive chops made Brogdon a far more NBA-ready fit than Trimble’s current resume, but there’s always room for talented scorers in this league as well.

Of course, Trimble’s professional dreams won’t die if he name isn’t called on June 22 — no, not by a longshot. Trimble’s creative abilities would make him an exciting talent to follow in the D-League or, as always, Europe could beckon. In an interview with Glenn Clark in early May, Trimble noted that he’d be more than willing to spend time in the D-League if it meant reaching the NBA someday.

“A lot of people are saying I’m going straight to the D-League or overseas, but I look at it as a good thing for me to get better,” Trimble said. “Obviously, [it would mean] I’m not ready, and I had an opportunity to get ready to hopefully have a chance to be in the NBA.”

Fortunately for Trimble, his saving grace may come in the form of the NBA’s newly-introduced two-way contracts. As per the new CBA, teams will have roster spots for a 16th and 17th man, specifically created for those that will frequently traverse between the NBA and the D-League. For a franchise that sees potential in Trimble, the two-way contract could be a way to get his foot in the door, whether that comes through the draft or a summer league opportunity.

Trimble struggled in his 5-on-5 scrimmage at the combine yesterday, outplayed by his competitors and then forced some bad turnovers as a result. His two points on 0-for-5 from the field and five turnovers were a worst-case scenario for Trimble, as projected second rounder Monte Morris gave him trouble all afternoon. Without the big-time measurables or enticing age of his fellow draftees, Trimble will need to play far better in Friday’s 5-on-5 if he wants any chance of getting outright selected this summer.

Additionally, Trimble was asked if he had any workouts or interviews lined up yet. For now, Trimble has workouts scheduled with the Philadelphia 76ers and the Chicago Bulls — who certainly could have used a more poised point guard against Boston a few weeks ago — and said that he’s already chatted with members from the Washington Wizards.

Much can change in one year’s time, but for Trimble, it’s sadly been more of the same at the combine. It’s looking increasingly likely that Trimble will need to take an unconventional route to the NBA — but that’s more than OK with him. Although Trimble could have returned for his senior year, he knows that this is his best shot of making it professionally.

After signing with an agent, there’s no turning back now. One way or another, Trimble will likely get his shot at the NBA, just expect it to come via the road less traveled.

Ben Nadeau is a Boston-based writer in his first year with Basketball Insiders. For the last five seasons, he covered the Brooklyn Nets for The Brooklyn Game.

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: The Top of The 2018 Draft Is Getting Crowded

The top of the projected 2018 NBA Draft is starting to get interesting, mainly because so many potential draft prospects are having incredibly dominant seasons.

Steve Kyler

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Things Are Getting Interesting

While the projected 2018 NBA Draft class doesn’t seem to have a future superstar sitting at the top of the board, there are potentially four players that are really looking the part of future NBA All-Stars and it’s making the top of the class very interesting.

Say what you want about stats, but there is little doubt that the numbers some of the top prospects are posting so far this season are pretty compelling.

Duke’s Marvin Bagley III is averaging 21.1 points per game to go with 10.9 rebounds. His 61.7 percent field goal average is impressive, especially when you consider he’s knocking in 34.6% of his three (9-26 on the season). Bagley has a 32.2 PER with a 64.6 True Shooting percentage and a 26.7 usage rate. In short, highly productive almost everywhere without having to own the basketball.

Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton is posting similarly ridiculous numbers, 19.5 points per game with 11.4 rebounds. His 61.7 percent from the field also comes with an impressive 30.4 percent three-point average (7-23 on the season). Ayton’s 32.3 PER is a nose higher than Bagley. He is also posting a whopping 65.6 True Shooting percentage with a 26.7 percentage usage rate. Again, highly productive in every way without being so ball-dominant to skew the numbers. Ayton hit the ground running at Arizona and really hasn’t had a bad game yet.

Oklahoma’s Trae Young has burst into the top-five discussion in a huge way. His 6’2 180-pound frame looks small on the court, but his game has been tremendous. Young is posting 28.7 points per game with a monster 10.4 assists per contest. He is grabbing 3.5 rebounds while shooting 48.5 percent from the field, 57.1 percent from two-point range and a scorching 41.1 percent from three (44 of 107 on the season). Young’s 38 PER is tops in all of college basketball. He has a 65.2 True Shooting percentage and a 36.1 usage rate. Unlike Bagley and Ayton, Young does control the ball, but that’s typical for an impact scoring point guard. He offsets the ball dominance with incredible assist numbers. He is also pretty spectacular to watch.

International phenom Luka Dončić is having a solid season in his own right, although his averages are lower because he doesn’t play the same volume of minutes as the NCAA collegiate prospects. In 26 games in both the Euroleague and the ACB, Dončić is posting 16.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per contest. He is shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from international three (48 of 135 on the season). Dončić is posting a 28.2 PER in Euroleague play and a 23.7 PER in ACB play. Dončić’s True Shooting numbers in Euroleague play are impressive at 66.2 percent. In ACB play his number drop a bit to 58.1 percent. His usage numbers illustrate the same slip. In Euroleague play, he posts a 30 percent usage rate while posting a 26.6 percent usage rate in ACB. Dončić typically plays more minutes and a larger role in Euroleague play. Hence the stat shift. If you haven’t seen him play, he’s so instinctual and gifted it easy to see why many see him as the top pick.

There are some compelling storylines to watch towards the top of the NBA draft board, which is likely why so many NBA executives seem split on who they would peg as the top talent in the projected 2018 Draft class.

So, with that out the way, lets jump into the latest first-round 2018 NBA Mock Draft:

Here are some of the pick swaps and how they landed where they are currently projected:

The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers’ 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015. The 76ers traded that pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the draft pick trade that became Markelle Fultz before the draft; it has 2 through 5 protections and based on the standings today would convey to Boston.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer. The Brooklyn Nets traded several unprotected picks to Boston as part of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trades in 2015.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the current standings.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick only conveys if the Bucks pick lands between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the standings today would not convey.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Jazz/Wolves Ricky Rubio trade this past summer. The Jazz acquired the pick as part of the Thunder’s deal to obtain Enes Kanter in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors’ first round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets’ first round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @MikeAScotto, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @BuddyGrizzard, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: Another 2018 NBA Mock Draft – 12/13/17

Basketball Insiders’ publisher Steve Kyler drops his latest 2018 first-round NBA Mock Draft.

Steve Kyler

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A little less than a month ago we dropped the first 2018 NBA Mock Draft, which was met with a lot of disdain. Which is often a good thing because it sparks the discussion in NBA circles.

Since that Mock dropped, we’ve seen a bit more play out of some of the top prospects and many of the assumptions made almost a month ago are starting to settle into place a little more clearly.

The prevailing thought from NBA scouts and executives is that the possible 2018 NBA Draft class has a lot more questions than answers. The common view is that outside of the top 3 or 4 players there could be a very wide range on who the next 10-12 players will be; so expect for the second tier to evolve a lot over the course of the college basketball season.

A couple of things have started to surface among NBA scouts and executives, there seem to be three camps emerging around the top overall player – Duke’s Marvin Bagley III and international phenom Luka Dončić, seem to be the leading names mentioned most, with Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton making a strong push into the discussion. We can safely call this a three-horse race at this point.

The prevailing belief is that none of the three is far and away better than the other as a professional prospect, making it more likely than not that the top player selected will have a lot more to do with which team ultimately lands the pick, more so than the player themselves.

This class also seems to be brimming with promising athletic point guards, which unlike last year’s draft, could provide a lot of options for teams still trying to find that impact point guard.

There also looks to be 27 players in the projected top 100 that are 6’10 or bigger, eight of which project in the top 30. To put that into perspective, there were 11 players 6’10 or bigger drafted in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, and 17 total in the 60 2017 NBA Draft selections.

As we get into the 2018 calendar year, we’ll start to do deeper dives into the tiers of players and their possible NBA strengths and weakness.

So, with all of that in mind, here is the second 2018 first-round NBA Mock Draft.

Here are some of the pick swaps and how they landed where they are currently projected:

The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Ricky Rubio trade this summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would not convey.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the current standings.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves first round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick only conveys if the Bucks pick lands between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the standings today would not convey.

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors first round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets first round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/

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Mock Drafts

NBA AM: The First 2018 NBA Mock Draft

With College Basketball getting underway and things starting to get interesting in the standings of the NBA, what better time to drop a 2018 Mock Draft than on Thanksgiving.

Steve Kyler

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The Thanksgiving 2018 NBA Mock Draft

With College Basketball getting underway and things starting to get interesting in the standings of the NBA, what better time to drop a 2018 Mock Draft than on Thanksgiving.

So with that in mind here is my first Mock Draft of the 2018 Season, look for more of these are we march on (and hopefully you like the new Mock Draft table design.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this summer.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the current standings.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick only conveys if the Bucks pick lands between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the standings today would convey.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Ricky Rubio trade this summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves first round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors first round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets first round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

Check out our Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @MikeAScotto, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @BuddyGrizzard, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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