There are many players testing draft waters at the moment, but Melo Trimble is an excellent case study. Maryland was a team that started off hot, at 15-1, but they finished the regular season losing five of their last eight. They did make it to the Sweet Sixteen, only to be subdued by the Kansas Jayhawks, the number one overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
With the season over, the choice of NBA or NCAA looms for Melo and other players that are not sure first round picks. Many players will make this decision based on the money aspect, but I do believe that Trimble could improve his odds of ending up on a team if he stays in school. A year of improvement would likely make him more desirable to a team and give him more of a chance to sign a big contract. Another legitimate counter argument would be the possibility of injury. However, we have seen star players have devastating injuries (Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel) and still be drafted early. Trimble has the capacity to excel to be that caliber of a player. This past year did not do well for his future in the NBA.
Trimble’s numbers were vastly affected by the roster changes. Most notably were the additions of Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon and star recruit Diamond Stone. Due to these alterations, many players, including Trimble, saw a decrease in their numbers as an effect of the extra offensive options. Jake Layman saw statistical drops in several categories, however, his shooting percentage improved while his turnover margin and rebounding averages remained similar.
This type of trend did not manifest itself in Melo Trimble’s game. In fact, Trimble had a ten percent decrease in three point percentage and a three percent drop in overall field goal percentage. As a freshamn, he averaged 16.2 points per game, shot 41% from three point range and 41% from the field. This years averages were, 14.8 points per game, 31% from deep, and a 41% overall shooting mark. Diamond Stone took away some of his easier looks inside and caused an increase in jumpers, but the extra options should have meant more open shots because team defenses had more players to concentrate on than just the sophomore point guard. Trimble did have a large bump in assist per game, almost two more per game, but it does not appear that he had significant growth in his overall game.
A junior campaign with the Terrapins would solidify him as a first round draft pick. With Diamond Stone hiring an agent, he is now unable to return to school. This could affect Trimble with the lack of an excellent high pick and roll option. However, with Sulaimon graduating, that should allow Trimble to touch the ball more and cause his numbers to increase next season. With Jacob Layman leaving as well, it will be up to Robert Carter, Trimble, and Damonte Dodd to become the most polished offensive options and the go-to players on the team.
Dodd and Carter will need to work well with Trimble due to the fact that, with the exits of big-men Layman and Stone, they are the best legitimate options in the post. Mark Turgeon and Maryland have no star recruits in the Forward or Center department. They do have a new option at point guard in freshman Anthony Cowan. This would likely take some pressure off of Trimble and allow him to play a bit off the ball as a two guard, but he would still do majority of the ball handling and receive most of the minutes. Recruit Kevin Huerter, a knock down shooter, will likely space the floor and give Trimble an option to rack up assists.
If Trimble decides to return, this is his team. He is in control of it, but that also means that he would take much of the blame if they are unsuccessful. Overall, it is highly probable that his averages would increase. He has proven himself to be a shooter, and those averages would likely return to that of his first year at Maryland, planting him as a sure mid first round pick or better.
Trimble’s lack of hiring an agent at this point, unlike Stone, means that he is mulling this over and aware of the benefits to both sides. As he sees himself mostly placed in the early second round in mock drafts, he will return. He would need to have a very good showing at the NBA Combine to drastically affect that. I see Trimble as a returnee, which would be a big win for the fans in College Park.