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Melo Trimble’s Summer League benching shows how difficult making the NBA is

Trimble watched four guards play over him.

Xavier v Maryland Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Melo Trimble made his NBA Summer League debut for the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night in Utah. Well, in the physical sense of him being there. He didn’t actually play. Trimble watched from the bench as four guards: No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz, and three other undrafted players, Isaiah Briscoe, Larry Drew II and Aaron Harrison played on.

Monday night’s healthy scratch doesn’t mean Trimble won’t play at all in Summer League. He’ll get his chance. But for anyone who’s watched him play over the last three years, it’s mind-blowing how someone as talented as Trimble didn’t play in a basketball game of any kind.

Trimble’s benching shows just how difficult it is to make it in the NBA.

Just 400 or so guys are in the league at any given time, and while that may feel like a decent sized league at the surface, it leaves hundreds of notable players out. A lot of top-tier college talent disperses across the G-League and overseas every year. Some can’t make the leap to the next level despite how dominant they were against collegiate competition.

Maryland basketball players have had a rough go of things in the past few years trying to make it to the NBA. Jake Layman and Diamond Stone have hardly played despite their second-round selections in last year’s draft, and Dez Wells, Rasheed Sulaimon and Robert Carter Jr. have yet to crack an NBA roster. But it’s Trimble’s Summer League benching that resonates most.

Trimble changed the state of Maryland; I’ve written about this before. He hit buzzer-beater after buzzer-beater and was a huge reason for the sell-outs of dozens of games in College Park. He was the team’s star, and although his production dropped as he aged, he was considered one of the country’s best point guards in all three years he played. He still wasn’t given a chance to play in front of scouts, general managers and his competition for an opportunity to make an NBA roster.

Other big programs’ fans are thinking the same thing too. Indiana star James Blackmon sat right beside Trimble on the bench Monday night.

Making the NBA is just SO frickin’ hard.

People have thoughts about Trimble’s game, what he constantly did wrong, and when he should’ve left college. None can disagree, though, that he’s one of Maryland’s best players ever. The Terps could hardly afford to give him three minutes rest in any game they wanted to win — and they were a top-25 team for a good portion of his tenure.

That’s why it was so disheartening to watch him sit on the bench clapping in a Summer League game.

Maybe one day, Trimble will get his NBA chance, but it doesn’t appear like it will be this summer. The world is full of basketball talent, and we realized that on day one of the Utah Jazz Summer League.