Over the next few weeks, we’ll be profiling every player currently on the Sixers’ roster ahead of training camp, which begins on Sept. 27.
Contract status: $8.2 million for 2022-23; $8 million in 2023-24; unrestricted free agent ahead of 2024-25 season
In arguably his shrewdest move of the offseason, Daryl Morey swung a deal on draft night to acquire guard De’Anthony Melton from the Memphis Grizzlies for Danny Green and the 23rd overall pick (David Roddy). Melton is just 24 and under contract for two more seasons. Getting him for Green, who is 35 and recovering from a serious knee injury, and Roddy, a player who would’ve been unlikely to help the Sixers this season, is a major coup.
Melton’s biggest impact can be felt on the defensive end. He’s a fairly stout on-ball defender, with excellent lateral quickness and the ability to navigate screens. Though he’s 6-foot-2, Melton plays much bigger than that because of his 6-8 wingspan and elite athleticism. He is comfortably able to guard ones and twos — and even threes depending on the matchup. Melton’s real strength is as an off-ball defender where he’s proven to be a deflection machine.
Last season Matisse Thybulle and De'Anthony Melton were 1st and 2nd in steal % and 1st and 3rd in deflections per minute— Fastbreak Breakfast (@fastbreakbreak) June 24, 2022
The ability to force turnovers portends well to Melton’s offensive game. He’s able to excel in transition because of his speed and uses his aforementioned athleticism to finish on the break.
Overall, Melton had arguably the best offensive season of his young career. He averaged a career high 10.8 points a game while shooting 37.4 percent from three on a healthy volume (5.1 attempts a game). While you likely won’t see Melton running the offense as the primary ball handler, he does flash ability off the bounce and can certainly be useful as a secondary creator.
A late second-round pick of Morey while in Houston in 2018, the USC product was traded not long after to Phoenix, never suiting up for the Rockets. The improvement of his jumper is what’s made Melton a strong rotational NBA piece. After shooting below 30 percent on just over two attempts from three a game in first two seasons, he’s hit 38.8 on 4.7 attempts from deep the last two. At just 24, it’s fair to believe that Melton is still an ascending player.
Season outlook: In P.J. Tucker and Danuel House Jr., the Sixers acquired much-needed toughness, athleticism, energy, and defensive versatility. Melton also fits that mold. There was a theme to Morey’s offseason and Melton represents it as much as anyone.
Melton’s assimilation to the Sixers’ rotation should be seamless. He’s hit threes at a similar clip and volume to Green the last two seasons. His ability to wreak havoc on the defensive end is Thybulle-like. The added element of being able to create his own offense at times makes him an extremely attractive option for Doc Rivers.
Melton should have no issue playing in any lineup. He’ll be a great catch-and-shoot option (he hit over 40 percent of those opportunities last season) playing next to James Harden and Joel Embiid. His ability as a secondary creator should lessen the burden of Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris with bench-heavy units. The Sixers will go from a dearth of bench scoring to having two players in Melton and Montrezl Harrell that averaged double-digits as reserves in 2022-23.
The Sixers’ bench and depth should be markedly better — and Melton will be a big part of that.