The NBA Draft is finally upon us, and Maryland’s best hope of being represented Thursday night comes in the form of Melo Trimble.
The point guard was a three-year star for the Terps, leading the team in its transition to the Big Ten. After testing the new draft process last year, he declared for the draft again after this season and signed with an agent, forgoing his senior year.
Trimble averaged 15.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists in his time as a Terp, shooting just under 43 percent from the field and just over 34 percent from deep. He’s faced questions about his three-point shooting accuracy since his averages dipped from 42 percent as a freshman to around 32 percent over his last two seasons.
His draft stock peaked after an outstanding freshman season, but in terms of his development, Trimble felt this year was his best shot at going pro. He isn’t currently projected to hear his name called Thursday night, but brings a number of skills to the table that should get him an opportunity to earn his place in the league.
Trimble has a number of intangibles that should carry over to the next level. He has the frame of an NBA point guard, measuring at almost 6’3 and 195 pounds at the combine. Trimble has been Maryland’s scoring leader the last two seasons, but perhaps the most important skills he brings to a team are his court vision and passing.
Trimble excelled at always keeping an eye on the open man. This was on full display in his matchup against North Carolina his sophomore season. He had a career-high 12 assists — alongside a career-worst eight turnovers — and he created for both himself and the team out of the pick-and-roll and was able to find shooters in space, necessary skills in today’s NBA.
Having Anthony Cowan this season allowed Trimble to develop as an off-ball scorer and facilitator. He was still responsible for ending the same amount of possessions, per KenPom, but he was able to work off of screens with greater frequency. In addition, Trimble’s played with a “stretch-four” in each of his seasons at Maryland. After Portland Trail Blazers forward Jake Layman filled the role Trimble’s freshman year, Robert Carter took the job his sophomore season and Justin Jackson masqueraded as a power forward last year. As the NBA is trends more towards the “pace and space” style of play, it’s valuable that Trimble understands how to operate that type of offense.
At the end of the day, Trimble knows how to score, and that can’t be taught. Of course, everything he got away with at the college level won’t work in the pros, but he’ll just have to adjust his game accordingly. Though his shooting percentages dropped as his time at Maryland went on, Trimble’s a more-than-capable shooter, and while comfortable shooting off-the-dribble, he’s at his best when he can get a head of steam going towards the basket. He put up a career-high 32 points against Northwestern in February, showcasing his ability to put points on the board.
Trimble has a number of question marks keeping teams away from drafting him. Some, like his turnover issues and defense, might mitigate themselves with experience and effort. Others, like questions about his athleticism and shooting consistency, he’ll simply have to deal with.
Size aside, he’ll never be the most athletic player on the court. In college, he countered with his ability to draw fouls. Trimble’s most efficient shooting year came his freshman year. After that, defenses started to focus their gameplan against him. At least a portion of his decline in shooting can be attributed to the increase in contested shots he was taking. He’ll need to pick his shots better and play within the flow of the offense to prove he belongs in the league.
“If I just get the opportunity, I feel as though I can prove myself,” Trimble said on Glenn Clark Radio in May. “I’m a pretty big guard, a lot of people see me in person and say, ‘I didn’t know you were that tall.’ As far as my jump shot, I know I can shoot, every shot’s not going to go in for me, and unfortunately a lot of shots didn’t go in for me.”
What’s the best-case scenario?
Trimble hasn’t shown up on mock drafts since he declared and ranks as the No. 84 prospect on DraftExpress’ Big Board. He could still sneak into the second round, but it’s looking improbable.
Trimble’s best shot at making an NBA roster will be to impress a team during summer league and earn his spot during training camp. He worked out for a good number of teams during the pre-draft process, and he signed with the Philadelphia 76ers shortly after going undrafted.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement facilitated the creation of two-way contracts. Next season, 26 NBA teams will have direct NBA G-League (formerly D-League) affiliates, essentially meaning there are 52 more roster spots to go around. This feels like the best situation for Trimble’s professional development.
As owners of the Delaware 87ers, if the Sixers like what Trimble displays over the summer and early fall, they could decide to use one of these two-way contracts on him. That would allow Trimble to primarily refine his skills in the NBA’s minor leagues, but still give him the opportunity to get time at basketball’s top level.
Trimble doesn’t look like a star at next level, but has the skills to stick.
Trimble’s name didn’t get called Thursday night, but he’ll get an opportunity this summer. Trimble led Maryland to three straight NCAA Tournaments, including its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2003, and though he probably won’t be the focal point of an offense again, that didn’t go unnoticed. Scouts raved about Trimble at the college level, but his NBA career will likely be followed with much less fanfare.
Trimble has expressed he has no qualms starting in the G-League or overseas, and though making the NBA is obviously his top goal, he could also follow the route of former Terps Dez Wells and Rasheed Sulaimon. Both enjoyed solid seasons in the G-League last year and were back in front of NBA Scouts ahead of the combine. Trimble will have to make of his opportunities if he wants to find a role at the next level, and though he’ll probably go undrafted, he shouldn’t lack chances to prove himself.
Update: This post was updated to reflect Trimble’s signing with the Sixers.