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New Faces from Old Places: De’Anthony Melton

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In the first part of this six-part series, we talk about Rockets new draft pick De’Anthony Melton with Colton Molesky of Conquest Chronicles.

NCAA Basketball: Southern California at Oregon Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets have six new faces this year, three rookies and three veterans (so far). And we will experience the ride that these new Rockets take us on, but in order to get a slightly better understanding of the new kids on the block, we thought it would be a smart idea to learn more about the new faces from the people that have recently bid them farewell.

For the first part of this series, The Dream Shake has spoken with Colton Molesky of Conquest Chronicles, SB Nation’s USC site. Thank you for participating, Colton. You can follow him on Twitter @CMolesky for all things Melton and all things Trojans.

Jeremy Brener, The Dream Shake: What skills did Melton show at USC that put him on NBA radars and draft boards?

Colton Molesky, Conquest Chronicles: On-ball defense is where Melton made his name in college. While his offensive versatility makes his scoring upside tantalizing, his on-ball defense can be used right away. He can lock up guards and keep up with the speed of a one. His knack for reading an opponent showed up in the stat sheet, where he averaged 1.9 steals and a block per game.

Jeremy Brener, The Dream Shake: Are the Rockets a good fit for Melton? If so, why?

Colton Molesky, Conquest Chronicles: Because of this, he is in a perfect spot with the Rockets. He is perfectly comfortable making an impact on defense while playing off-ball offense. Playing alongside a ball-dominant PG in McLaughlin through college helped him find space and lanes to the basket without the ball in his hands. And finding more opportunities for three-point shooting should help him improve in that area, which he has been working on in Summer league already, shooting 31 percent from 3 compared to 28 percent in college. An added bonus is that Chris Paul will need to take cut minutes in the regular season while Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute are gone. Melton also proved his versatility by playing 150 minutes at guard and 88 at forward. This is the perfect fit because he is the mold of how the Rockets want their guards to play around Harden and Paul.

Jeremy Brener, The Dream Shake: What is his biggest risk?

Colton Molesky, Conquest Chronicles: Naturally, the risk here is banking on the offensive upside to pan out. The excuse of not being able to shoot or shoot well does not play any longer. I believe he will find a consistent perimeter shot, but that is obviously not a sure thing.

Jeremy Brener, The Dream Shake: What is the one thing Melton needs to improve if he wants to succeed in the NBA?

Colton Molesky, Conquest Chronicles: Two things he has already displayed in Summer League were some solid help side defense and great ball handling. If he can grow as a primary playmaker, he will be adding another tool to keep him off the bench. Think Eric Gordon in three years but better defense.

Jeremy Brener, The Dream Shake: Who is Melton’s pro player comparison?

Colton Molesky, Conquest Chronicles: Pro comp right now is Avery Bradley. Although my quiet hope is that in 4 or 5 years he is a poor man’s Klay Thompson.

Jeremy Brener, The Dream Shake: What is your projection for Melton in his rookie year and overall career?

Colton Molesky, Conquest Chronicles: As far as projection, hopefully he is a 18-20 minute player as soon as two seasons out. With so many pieces on the Rockets year one is far more murky. If he can make a big splash early in the season, he could make a case for 15 minutes per game off the bench. The best case in year one is he makes a case to take some of the minutes and work that Ariza leaves behind. Worst case is he becomes buried under Gordon and Green.