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Lakers interview De’Anthony Melton at 2018 NBA Draft Combine

Former USC guard De’Anthony Melton spoke with the Lakers and other teams about his eligibility issues and more at the 2018 NBA Draft Combine.

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Baylor vs USC Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers front office is at the 2018 NBA Draft Combine this week, and former USC guard De’Anthony Melton is among the players they took a closer look at in an interview while there.

According to Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times, one of the topics discussed was Melton’s eligibility issues at USC, where the school ruled him preemptively ineligible before the season in an effort to avoid NCAA penalties stemming from an FBI probe into whether or not a former family friend took extra benefits from an agent (via the L.A. Times):

Melton, who played high school basketball at Encino Crespi, had his first interview at the combine with the Lakers. Every team he has met with has asked him to explain what happened at USC. He has tried to show them his character and explain his emotions going through the process.

Melton averaged 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.7 steals and one block per game while shooting 43.7 percent from the field before sitting out his entire sophomore campaign. According to Jonathan Givony of ESPN, Melton is the 25th-best prospect in the draft, which is coincidentally right where the Lakers are picking in the first round.

Silver Screen and Roll's own draft expert Ben Rosales thinks that Melton would be a solid choice there as well:

Melton was a potential breakout candidate coming into this season with a chance to create borderline lottery equity for himself before the college FBI scandal rendered him ineligible. As a result, any analysis of Melton involves a bit more prognosticating than is the norm for college prospects since it’s been a full year since we’ve seen Melton compete in a serious setting.

What we do know, however, is that Melton was a very, very good defender as a freshman and has solid measurables for someone who projects to defend either guard position well. Although not an elite athlete, Melton possesses plenty of quickness and great defensive instincts; he’s capable on ball and especially so off ball. A 7.9 combined steal and block rate as a freshman point guard is nothing short of outstanding.

Where Melton is more limited is on the offensive end, as although he’s a capable initiator as a point guard and possesses enough of a first step to be effective rounding the corner and getting downhill, his shot is a work-in-progress (praise from several corners for good mechanics on his side notwithstanding). He’s not a complete non-shooter, as his FT% attests to, but this will definitely be one of the areas that plays a big role in how he projects at the next level.

But between his age (will turn 20 at the end of this month), measurables, and superb defensive production, he’s a fantastic candidate for the Lakers at #25 and would create a superb defensive pairing, especially in help defense, with Lonzo Ball. That big plus is enough to gamble on his shot coming through and he fits the position versatile defensive ethos this FO has shown to value.

If the Lakers do go ahead and draft Melton, he would likely as combo guard depth off of the bench behind Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, or whoever the Lakers’ starting shooting guard is next season. Given that this was just an interview, there is still probably a long way to go before that.

All stats per A full list of every prospect we know the Lakers have worked out is available here. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen, or support his work via Venmo here or Patreon here.

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