Melvin Frazier is a name most people probably aren’t familiar with but he could be a player that we look back on as a real steal in this year’s draft.
The junior guard out of Tulane stands at six-foot-five with a 200-pound frame, elite length and good athleticism, possessing adequate scoring ability and a nose for the ball. His numbers last season were extremely respectable for the Green Wave, as he averaged 18.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.5 steals per 40 minutes, while posting a 22.4 PER.
Frazier is an adequate scorer who can shoot it a little, converting on 38.5% of his three-point attempts last season and sporting a .631 true shooting percentage.
The faster, the better for Frazier. He excels in transition and attacking downhill off the dribble. He’s got solid first step quickness and can get to the rim or shoot off the dribble, but does most of his damage from dribble handoffs or behind the back dribbles usually going to his right.
Frazier can finish above the rim or through contact due to his athleticism but also his crazy length of course, as he was measured with a seven-foot-two wingspan.
The poster dunk Frazier had against North Carolina, where you see him beat the defender off high pick-and-roll with that behind the back dribble, was possibly the best play of the last college basketball season. He can finish with both hands and has good touch around the rim but seems to mainly look to go to the right.
As I mentioned above, Frazier’s best asset seems to be when the pace of the game speeds up and he’s in transition. He usually makes positive plays on the break and has very impressive speed in the open floor. Frazier is great at taking a defensive rebound and changing ends, getting the break going and staying on the lookout to find open shooters trailing him. He’s also great at turning steal and defensive plays into transition opportunities, often scoring from steals.
His shooting concerns me some but his field goal, three-point, free throw and two-point percentages all trended upwards during his three seasons at Tulane. Mechanically speaking, there doesn’t seem to be too many things standing out about his shot that are poor, besides really nitpicky things such as the ball being released behind his head or it seeming to be a little slow, as the ball kind of sticks at times with his release point. His follow through is sometimes inconsistent but he showed real progression over the past two seasons.
His handle is solid but his ball security seems to be a real issue, as he averaged three turnovers per 40 minutes. His dribble gets high at times and he gets the ball knocked away too often on drives, showcasing a limited arsenal in terms of his creativity as a ball handler. Frazier also has a strong preference for going right, as he just doesn’t seem particularly comfortable setting up lefty finishes.
The other end is where Frazier is really going to make his money in the league, especially with his ability off ball. He’s a thief, finishing with 152 steals over his three years in college and averaging 2.3 steals per 40 minutes.
Frazier does a good job of keeping his head on a swivel, reading passes and utilizing his great length to get into passing lanes. He’s a good team defender, helping often from the weak-side and even when he gets beat, Frazier has the length and quickness to recover and at least alter the shot.
Frazier definitely can get greedy at times and his effort off ball can come back to haunt him, as he gambles frequently for steals. This causes him to get out of or give up position to his man and give up easy buckets. As long as he can keep his energy level, while maintaining better discipline, he should limit these errors and excel as a defender at the next level.
As an on ball defender, the story is different. He’s not bad, but far from great.
Frazier gets beat off the dribble more than you would expect. His fundamentals are pretty poor; he stands way too upright and is rarely down in a stance, something that usually gets taken advantage of.
Frazier just kind of goes through the motions and that’s a big issue for me, as I view him as lazy. If he can capture the same intensity and effort he brings off the ball to when he is guarding on the ball, he has the potential to be an upper echelon defender in the NBA.
I don’t view Frazier as an elite prospect and he’s not going to change your franchise by any means. But he’s an adequate shooter and scorer, who can create at times for himself, thrives playing in transition and can generate steals in volume. He will add value to whatever team selects him and should be a rotation player for a long time, if he gets stronger and continues to improve his on-ball defense.
Frazier is a real dark horse in this class and would be a steal in the second round. To me, he should be late first round pick and could perhaps help a contender right away.
Editor’s Note: Evan Wheeler is a regular contributor to ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Denver Sidekicks, where he is also a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @EvzSports