Yesterday, we spoke about how much of the success of the Gonzaga Bulldog’s 2017-18 season will depend on the play of point guard Josh Perkins. In that same breath of a sentence, we also need to give Silas Melson credit, because it will be Melson’s quiet leadership that will anchor the backcourt.
Melson’s career with the Zags had an odd trajectory. His dreams of a red shirt freshman year campaign were demolished after Josh Perkins was drop kicked in the face. Melson was thrown into the fire to garner a few minutes, but it wasn’t until his junior campaign that the evolution of his playing style became complete.
Last season, Melson’s numbers were up all over the board. Not by much mind you, but he is one of those players whose biggest contributions are the ones that tend to go unnoticed in the box score. Melson is the team’s best perimeter defender, drawing the hardest matchups and putting forth the most energy on that end.
He also loves to slash to the hoop, with nearly 30 percent of his shots last year coming at the rim (compared to Perkins 18.5 percent). After three years of presumably having a Perkins/Melson tandem in the backcourt, we are finally seeing it come to fruition this season.
The beauty of Melson’s game rolls directly with his size. He is a big and hard-nosed guard. Melson has the speed to slide out to the wing, although he will generally spend much of his time playing the two spot. It might also finally be the year we see Melson break out offensively.
That shooting ability for Melson has always been there. He had a run of double digit scoring in six of seven games his sophomore year, but with the offensive firepower around him, Melson was never called on to score much. That will be different this year. His senior role will require him to take a leadership role, both on and off the court. Melson has never been a high volume shooter -- he averaged just 5.5 field goal attempts last season.
However, he ticked every shooting percentage mark up between his sophomore and junior years. Last season, his true shooting percentage sat at 57.9, right in line with the rest of the Gonzaga guards.
He will have some help in the backcourt as well. With Perkins presumably playing the lion share of his minutes at point guard, Melson will see some help at the two spot from Zach Norvell and possibly Corey Kispert (don’t rule that one out). Melson to a certain extent reinvented his game to find his role on the Bulldogs. Now it is time to expand that role, and run with it to the finish line of his collegiate career.