Many young men fall asleep at night holding their basketball tight, with night visions of hearing the commissioner of the NBA say those fateful words...
"With the first pick in the NBA Draft, the (insert team here) select...."
Every boy that has ever dribbled a basketball dreams of being the next Michael Jordan or LeBron James. Even if they don't hear their name called, just to step foot on the NBA hardwood would be the culmination of a lifetime goal.
Cleveland Melvin has that dream. Just last June, he tweeted his congratulations to NBA draftees Shane Larkin and CJ McCollum, while also expressing his hope to follow in their footsteps this summer in New York City. Melvin has a good game, and along with Brandon Young, is the focal point of a DePaul team with two early Big East victories this season.
That being said, many believe he's been a guy with great stats on a bad team the past four years. He's a good player, but does he compare to guys putting up numbers on better teams?
DraftExpress.com currently has Melvin ranked 77th among seniors in the NCAA, a year after he was ranked the 73rd best junior in his class. Not only would he not be among the top 60 seniors eligible for the NBA Draft, he likely wouldn't crack the top 100 prospects with all of the underclassmen planned to declare for this June's draft, per ESPN draft expert Chad Ford's top 100 list.
Since being named the Big East Rookie of the Year back in 2011, Melvin hasn't done much to drastically improve his game. His numbers are better, but his game isn't complete. He's really good finishing at the basket, and his defense is good, but he's not as effective from outside 17 feet as other higher-ranked prospects are. Melvin is also an undersized power forward, a 6-foot-8 guy who hasn't played enough at the 3 to establish himself as a stretch forward. He's needed around the rim. He isn't going to play around the wing and hit the corner J.
Melvin has had a great individual career with the Blue Demons, and will go down as one of the top leading scorers in DePaul history. However, his career after leaving Lincoln Park remains to be seen. Will draft experts look at his production and move up up the boards, or will his size, game and program drop him into undrafted free agent territory.
There are other routes Melvin go take on his path to the NBA. Should he go undrafted, he can always use the NBA Summer League as an opportunity to make a statement to the 30 teams that passed him up. He can go overseas, but that usually is an abyss for many college basketball stars.
Should Melvin improve his game within the next two months, lead DePaul to a few more Big East wins, and have a strong showing at the combine, he could fight his way into late 2nd-round consideration in this summer's draft. If not, it's unlikely his dream of playing in the NBA will be realized as soon as he would hope.