With the Sixers swinging a draft night trade for De’Anthony Melton, we wanted to bring in someone who has watched a lot of the now-former Memphis Grizzlies guard in recent years. Shawn Coleman, a writer for SB Nation’s Grizzly Bear Blues, and host of the Locked On Grizzlies podcast, was kind enough to join us for this Q&A. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @StatsSAC.
Sean Kennedy: De’Anthony Melton has been a part of the Grizzlies’ rotation for a few years now and is still just 24 years old. Why do you think Memphis was willing to part with him in a trade?
Shawn Coleman: There is no doubt De’Anthony Melton is a valuable player, mainly due to his defense and ability to make threes in bunches. And at 24 years old, Melton logically still has room to grow. However, in Memphis, Melton’s offense was inconsistent at times, and it seemed the coaching staff had a hard time trusting his production in high leverage and playoff situations. Furthermore, Melton has more of a wing skill set in a combo guard’s body, as he does not handle point guard duties very well due to his lack of consistent ball handling. Memphis also had a desire to add size and length on the perimeter this offseason. In other words, this seems to simply be an odd man out situation and the Grizzlies wanted to get value where they could for him.
SK: What is the general reaction to the deal among the Memphis fan base?
SC: In general, I think the Memphis fan base has reacted to the deal with a bit of skepticism. I feel most Grizzlies fans understood the logic in Melton potentially being traded this offseason, but the thought was that it would be in a way to upgrade the roster as the Grizzlies intend to build toward contention after last season. Or perhaps Memphis would use Melton to trade up in the draft to go after an A.J. Griffin or as a way to turn Melton into more of a pure wing.
Instead, the value the Grizzlies get from trading Melton is potentially opening up some salary if they let Danny Green go and a talented but unique skill set in David Roddy. That seems to be fair value, but it also seems the Grizzlies could have have acquired similar value while also retaining Melton.
SK: What did you most enjoy watching about Melton’s game over the years?
SC: Melton’s ability to cause chaos on defense is so much fun. He can easily change the momentum of a game in just a minute or two of game action due to creating turnovers or hitting a few threes in succession. When he does both during a stretch off the bench, that is when he shows he can be one of the NBA’s best reserves. He truly is one of the best in the league at creating steals (I believe Melton and Thybulle have the best two steal rates in the NBA since Thybulle was drafted). In general, his defensive playmaking leading to fast break opportunities makes him a lot of fun to watch.
SK: How much upside do you feel is still left for Melton to unlock?
SC: I do feel Melton still has some progression, though it may not be that significant. Three areas he can continue to progress in are ball-handling, shooting consistency, and showing up in the postseason. The latter two I think are very much connected. While Melton may produce decent to good shooting numbers overall, he can be quite streaky. If Melton can shoot more consistently, he will have multiple ways to add value when he is on the court. I think one aspect that can help with this progression is having a more consistent connection with the Philly staff than he had in Memphis.
SK: You’ve touched upon it, so I should mention that Melton has struggled the last two years in the playoffs. Is there anything about his game that doesn’t translate to postseason basketball or was that just an example of small sample size?
SC: Two factors I think have played a part in Melton’s postseason struggles. The first is his role always being in flux based on adjustments the Grizzlies were making. The second is that his way of making an impact defensively is a bit limited as the game slows down and becomes more methodical in the playoffs. This shines a spotlight back on Melton’s shooting ability. If he can get more consistent in that area, he can offer more reason to be trusted in big moments.
SK: Finally, what’s a fun fact about Melton off the court Sixers fans should know?
SC: A few things about De’Anthony that stand out beyond the court are that he is a wonderful teammate and also that he takes a lot of pride in where he is from. He is always happy to talk about USC and other things Los Angeles as he is from the area. In general, Melton always comes across as a very kind and cool person.