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Film Breakdown: Making a case for Melo Trimble to get another shot at the NBA

The former Terp star has been lighting it up in for Melbourne United in the NBL.

Melbourne v Sydney: NBL Semi Finals - Game 2 Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

Following a dazzling 2014-15 freshman campaign in which he averaged 16.2 points per game and shot over 40 percent from beyond the arc, several NBA draft pundits tabbed Maryland men’s basketball guard Melo Trimble as one of the top prospects whenever he decided to declare.

However, Trimble’s sophomore and junior campaigns didn’t live up to the media hype, causing him to go undrafted in 2017. After summer league stints with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2017 and Chicago Bulls in 2018, with some time spent in the G-League in between, Trimble eventually opted to go overseas.

Since then, Trimble has played two seasons in Australia’s top basketball league. He suited up for the NBL’s Cairns Taipans in 2018-19, where he led the league in scoring with 22.5 points per game, and for Melbourne United in 2019-20. Over the course of those two years, Trimble has posted lines of 21.2/4.7/3.6, leading some to wonder whether the 25-year-old Upper Marlboro, Maryland, native deserves another shot in the NBA.

Trimble averaged 21 points, six assists and 2.5 steals in 2019 preseason games against the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Clippers, showing he can keep up with the league’s talent.

I went through the film from Melbourne’s Semifinals series against the Sydney Kings and pulled what I thought were the strongest indications that Trimble deserves a shot at an NBA roster.

When breaking down Trimble’s game, the discussion begins and ends with his aptitude for putting the ball in the hole. As we saw during his time as a Terp, Trimble has an elite skillset for finding a platform for his shot, and then setting and firing at will.

Working especially well in pick-and-roll sets, Trimble routinely punishes defenders that opt to go under on screens. Trimble’s footwork on step-back jumpers is flawless, giving himself just enough space to get a shot off without sacrificing his balance to do so.

Trimble has also shown that he can create on his own when isolated against a single defender. With a herky-jerky style of attacking reminiscent of Markelle Fultz (pre-NBA), Trimble puts defenders on skates and leaves them guessing as to when he’ll hit them with a lightning-quick pull-up, which he did time and time again in his 34-point Game One performance against Sydney.

Trimble’s quick-twitch dribbling display can be even more deadly when defenders over-commit to contesting the outside shot, with his first step being one of the quickest in the NBL.

Trimble’s ability to explode into the lane and collapse the defense is invaluable in breaking down the opponent’s team defensive structure, with his innate sense to make the right play which amplifies his offensive impact.

One of the concerns I had when I began to project how Trimble’s game would translate to the NBA-level was whether he’d be able to finish at the rim through contact at just 6’2, 180 lbs. I was surprised, though, to see how often he welcomes contact inside the paint, and his the craftiness to get it up and over defenders.

Trimble’s constant willingness to attack through contact at the rim often puts him in a position he is extremely comfortable in: at the line shooting free throws. Since his Maryland days, Trimble has shown a penchant for drawing a whistle from the referee and earning trips to the charity stripe, where he’s proven he can knock down free throws at a steady clip.

Few players in the NBL did a better job than Trimble when it came to getting to the line, with the Melbourne star finishing second in the league in free throws attempted per game with 6.21 per contest. Shooting 80 percent from the line as well, Trimble is the type of player that makes his living at the charity stripe.

One underrated aspect of Trimble’s game that he’s managed to improve since his college days is his playmaking ability. As a score-first guard, he put up a strong amount of assists per game with 4.79 — a mark which ranked fourth in the NBL in 2019-20.

But Trimble’s creativity in regard to manipulating the players around him and putting his teammates in the best position to score is what’s really impressive.

Despite his frame, Trimble manages to make an impact on the defensive end of the floor as well. Though he has a tendency to drift away from his defensive assignment at times, Trimble makes up for it with his active hands off the ball.

Trimble led Melbourne in steals per game last season with 1.18, putting him ninth in the NBL in that category. Partially as a product of his habit to drift, Trimble gets his hands in the pockets of his opponents with ease, resulting in either a steal or a disruption of the offense’s rhythm.

So what do you guys think?


Could Melo Trimble make it in the NBA?

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