2018 Pacers Draft Preview: Melvin Frazier

CHAPEL HILL, NC - DECEMBER 16: Melvin Frazier #35 of the Tulane Green Wave drives against Theo Pinson #1 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at the Dean Smith Center on December 16, 2015 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. North Carolina won 96-72. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHAPEL HILL, NC - DECEMBER 16: Melvin Frazier #35 of the Tulane Green Wave drives against Theo Pinson #1 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at the Dean Smith Center on December 16, 2015 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. North Carolina won 96-72. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

After an impressive combine showing, Melvin Frazier looks to hear his name called in the first round of the upcoming NBA draft. The Pacers could look into picking him.

Melvin Frazier had a unique story getting to where he is now. The 21-year-old from Louisiana was an unheralded recruit out of high school. He chose to play close to home at Tulane University and struggled as a freshman. Although Frazier only averaged 5.2 ppg in his first season, he increased his production in the following two years.

Frazier led the Green Wave as a junior, scoring 15.9 points per game in almost 35 minutes. He first found his footing as a legitimate NBA prospect back in December, scoring 27 points on the #13 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels. Though Frazier proved himself as a solid player against decent competition, he really made his money at the combine.

Melvin Frazier’s Strengths


Staying with the draft combine theme, Frazier certainly looks the part of an NBA wing. While he could benefit from the weight room, he measured in at a wiry 6’6 and 198 pounds. That is some solid size for either the two or three position at the next level. Even though he doesn’t seem huge at that height and weight, he plays bigger due to a massive wingspan and huge hands.

Frazier proved he has the length to be a disruptive defender at the professional level by posting a 7’1.75 wingspan, the largest of anyone 6’6 or shorter. Another translatable measurement he excelled in is his huge hand length. Frazier measured with the eighth biggest hands in the combine, behind seven centers, with nine and a half inch hands. Just massive.


Another one of his major strengths is his reputation as an elite athlete. He posted one of the best max vertical leaps at 40.5 inches, only 1.5 off the leader. He is fluid on the perimeter and has quick hands and feet. While his athleticism won’t be as noticeable on the offensive end, he shows flashes of greatness on defense.

His potential on the defensive end is ultimately what will propel Frazier into the first round. He has all the tools to be a great defender at the next level, both his wingspan and hand length will be incredibly important in defending larger wings. He should be able to disrupt passing lanes and take on the opposing teams best perimeter scorer, a valuable commodity in today’s NBA.

Frazier’s length coupled with quick hands and feet makes easy situations like a post entry pass or just dribbling side to side a nightmare for opposing teams.

Melvin Frazier’s Weaknesses

Lower level competition

This is unfair to Frazier, but he’s rarely gone up against top-level competition.  In three years at Tulane, Melvin faced 10 ranked teams and only averaged 11.2 points in those games. His lack of exposure to high-level talent may make his transition to the NBA more difficult than other prospects, but as we have seen, it can be done.

The biggest adjustment Frazier will need to make is to the speed of the pro game. Everything moves faster and until the game slows down enough for him to make good, quick decisions he could struggle, especially on the offensive end. But his athleticism and length should allow his defensive impact to translate sooner rather than later.

Shot creation/offensive arsenal

Probably Frazier’s biggest weakness is his ability to score. While he did improve in this category every year during his brief stay at Tulane, he still has yet to show much shot creation ability or playmaking promise. Plus, the fact that he rarely faced NBA talent should give teams pause that he may never be able to score consistently enough to stay on the floor.

One aspect I do like in Frazier’s offensive game is his high, quick release. His bounce and high shooting pocket will make his jumper extremely hard to contest. Although his shot is fine to look at, the results have not been. A career 31 percent three-point shooter in college, Frazier has a lot of work to do to prove he’s ready for consistent NBA minutes.

Pro player comparison, fit and availability

NBA comparison: Terrance Ferguson or Josh Richardson

Frazier, like Ferguson and Richardson, is lean, long and athletic. Ferguson is mostly unproven, but looks the part of a future starter. This is what I would imagine Frazier will look like his first year or two in the league: not much of a scorer but can get minutes with good to elite athleticism and defensive prowess.

If he can continue to improve on his jump shot and playmaking ability, I think he turns into Josh Richardson; a slightly undersized wing that makes up for it with All-NBA type defense and a solid scoring punch.


Melvin Frazier fits with any team let alone one with little wing presence. He could easily earn minutes as a rookie behind Bojan Bogdanovic in a role similar to what GRIII played last year. Frazier would surely need time to adjust, but I like that he is used to improving his game. He is older than most draft hopefuls and has played in multiple different scenarios at Tulane. Starting as a first year player at 20 minutes per game and ending his college career as their best player, he has shown he can play many roles.

A path similar to… Victor Oladipo. The level of competition is much different, but the improvements are still important and create a nice analogy.

If he ever gets to be a Josh Richardson level player, he and Vic would provide one of the best defensive wing tandems in the NBA.


Frazier has gone from likely undrafted to late first round in a matter of a few weeks. His showing at the combine has vaulted him into first round discussion. Although his athleticism and defensive potential could push Frazier into the late teens, I would be surprised to see him go before the Pacers get a chance to take him at 23.

Next: Victor Oladipo nominated for 2018 Backbone award by teammates

If he is available, the fact that he is a quality wing could make him an attractive fit for the Pacers. Frazier has some work to do on offense, but his defensive capabilities could make him a solid choice for the Pacers at pick 23.