After Melo Trimble didn't get off the bench in his team's summer league opener Monday night, his debut in an NBA uniform with the Philadelphia 76ers in Salt Lake City on Wednesday might have been another indication why the former Maryland star guard was not drafted last month.
What Trimble showed — or didn't show — might also be an indication of where he will spend at least his first year after college.
Trimble didn't take a shot from the field in five first-half minutes, though he did get fouled on a drive and made one of two free throws. It could have been attributed to his unselfishness, or his tentativeness or, perhaps, his inability to find much space to shoot. He also forced a couple of passes that resulted in turnovers and was stripped at midcourt by former Gonzaga star Nigel Williams-Goss.
Trimble did a little more in five second-half minutes of Philadelphia's 100-94 loss to the host Jazz, making his first basket on an off-balance drive while being more careful with his ballhandling and passing. Still, his final stat line — three points, two turnovers, two assists in 10 minutes — did little to move Trimble up in the pecking order at point guard behind No. 1 overall draft pick Markelle Fultz.
It actually might have moved him down because others were more aggressive.
That included former Indiana star James Blackmon Jr., who like Trimble did not play in the opener Monday. Knowing he needs to show a team desperate for outside shooting that he can do that, Blackmon finished with eight points on three of six shooting, including making one of three 3-pointers in nine minutes.
It was interesting to note that Blackmon got time alongside Fultz in the fourth quarter as the 76ers made it a game, as did free agent Brandon Austin, a 6-7 point guard who was allowed to sign with his hometown 76ers despite a checkered college career that included being accused of sexual assault at Oregon and Providence.
Just as it seemed unfathomable that Trimble could sit on a team’s bench an entire game — something he probably had never done in his life — it was also telling that when the 76ers had a chance to tie the game in the final minute, Trimble was on the bench while Austin missed a 3-pointer from the wing. Austin finished with nine points on four of 13 shooting (two of eight on 3-pointers) in 22 minutes.
One game is not going to determine Trimble’s fate in Philadelphia. But this was clearly an opportunity missed for Trimble, who played while three others competing for possibly the same roster spot — former Kentucky standouts Isaiah Briscoe and Aaron Harrison Jr., as well as Larry Drew II – did not get off the bench against the Jazz.
A player who spent the past five years carrying his teams at Maryland and Bishop O’Connell High, at times to the point where some fans mistakenly confused Trimble’s confidence in taking so many shots for selfishness, will somehow have to find his swagger before he gets buried even deeper in the summer league rotation behind Fultz and a host of fellow NBA wannabes.