On Wednesday, Maryland guard Melo Trimble announced his declaration for the NBA Draft.
As for his NBA future? It’s up in the air. The former All-American wrapped up his third collegiate season and didn’t blow anybody away with his production. After a dip from year one to year two, Trimble got back to his regular output as a junior, but it’s arguable that his freshman campaign was his best. He averaged 16.2 points on 44.4 percent shooting and 3.0 assists in 2014-15. This year, Trimble mustered 16.8 points, a clip of 43.6 percent and 3.7 dimes. His stock hasn’t improved much and it’s unlikely that he goes undrafted this June.
The Terrapins finished 24-9 before being bounced in the first round of the tournament by Xavier, and that comes a year after a run to the Sweet 16. In the loss to the Musketeers, Trimble was nowhere to be found and finished with 13 points on abysmal 5-of-15 shooting. The killer was his atrocious showing from three, where he missed eight of the nine attempts he hoisted. If Trimble is to struggle at the next level, it’ll be because of that.
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He’s an undersized shooting guard, just 6-2.5, but Maryland had him play the point because he can create offense. On the perimeter, Trimble’s crafty with the ball but he’s easy to defend because he lacks a reliable outside shot, and his jarring drop-off is puzzling. During his first year with the Terrapins, Trimble was a deadeye shooter and nailed 41.6 percent of his triples. His clip dropped 10 percentage points to 31.5 over his final two years and it’s a huge reason why his offense didn’t see any significant improvement. At the next level, it’s very hard for guards to be effective without an outside shot.
His dreadful mark wouldn’t be a problem if he didn’t attempt a lot of threes. Unfortunately, he does. As a sophomore, 47.7 percent of his shots were from behind the arc. This year, that number dipped to 44.3. That’s far from ideal, to say the least. Another guard who struggles to shoot is Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox, whose three-point attempt rate is just 15.4 percent. The two players aren’t on the same level, but it’s clear that Fox knows his game and I’m sure Trimble does yet.
It’s evident that Trimble is at his best when working off screens and going down hill. He’s not the quickest, the longest or the most athletic, but he’s able to manipulate the pick-and-roll defense by keeping guys on his back once he gets the step. As a result, Trimble’s two-point percentage jumped up to 53 percent this year.
This year, eight NBA guys average more than 17 points a night despite shooting below 35 percent from three. All of them have one common trait: they create shots because of supreme athleticism or incredible craftiness. Once Trimble makes it to the league, it’s going to be even harder for him because he’s not a jaw-dropping athlete and his craftiness has yet to reach the level of those on the table.
NBA defenses are going to go under screens time and time again when Trimble’s thrown in that situation; they’re going to force him to beat them with a jumper, and that’s a winning strategy for the defense. Furthermore, the rest of the offense is going to suffer when they stick him off the ball and the floor’s going to shrink because defenses are able to collapse and cut off drives.
The answer doesn’t lie in his mechanics or his confidence. Trimble’s form is sound and he still believes each shot is going down. If he didn’t, the attempts wouldn’t be as high. Instead, the most logical answer is shot selection and he’s going to have to maximize his efficiency to succeed in the NBA. For a guy who shoots so well from inside the arc, five-plus attempts from three on a nightly basis is too much.
What should encourage teams is that Trimble isn’t someone whose game needs to be stripped down entirely. He’s entering the NBA with a solid handle and an innate ability to play at different speed, so building on that isn’t a daunting task at all. Staying in the gym and spending time in the D-League is likely Trimble’s path, but the uphill climb isn’t as steep as it could be.
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