The 76ers top brass have done some retooling over the years, from trading for Jimmy Butler to re-signing James Harden. However some of the smaller moves, have paid big dividends. The trading of Ben Simmons was national news, yet the front office has had to fashion the roster in a way that makes basketball sense, without overhauling the lineup too much. This of course, is always easier said than done. So far, things are pretty good, with Philadelphia maintaining the third seed in the conference, as they have played well going into the All-Star break.
De’Anthony Melton has an important role in the success of this team. His ability to play both ends of the court is exactly what the backcourt needed. He is someone who can start, come off the bench, as well as finish in the fourth quarter. With averages of 10.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and a three-point percentage of 40.1, he is the definition of being reliable. His 1.7 steals per game is good enough for fourth overall in the NBA.
The Hollywood, California native is used to being the center of attention, while delivering and most often exceeding the expectations.
“I’m ready for whatever,” Melton said recently. “Honestly, me and Tyrese [Maxey] kinda talked about it [starting in place of Maxey] even while he was hurt...what could happen, what may happen, or what might not happen.”
“I think we’re two flexible guys that are ready for whatever and ready to just win games,” Melton continued, “so I don’t think that stuff [starting or coming off the bench] really affected either one of us.”
Maxey has flourished since his return from injury, and the ultimate challenge is to win games, and secure a favorable seeding for the playoffs. Coach Doc Rivers has a wealth of talent at both guard positions, and no matter who starts or comes off the bench, it has been proven to earn a lot more wins than losses for the 76ers.
They have balance, from the caliber of players in the starting lineup to the second and/or third units off the bench. Two things need to happen between now and the end of the regular season:
1. Remain as healthy as possible. The teams who advance deep into the playoffs talk about how luck plays a factor into their overall success. When coaches and players discuss being lucky, more often than not they are referring to health.
2. Improve team rebounding. Championships can be made or broken on the boards. Be it offensive or defensive — the game within the game boils down to rebounding and securing the ball. Joel Embiid has enough scorers around him, so he does not have to account for the majority of the points. Crash the boards, and this team will win playoff games and wrap up a few series in less than seven games. Embiid is averaging 10.2 rebounds this season and has 11.2 per contest for his career. His 18 boards against Denver not only helped the 76ers secure a 126-119 win, it showed the world what he could do against the two-time league MVP Nikola Jokic.
Melton is confident in his teammates and the task at hand. His recent struggles are minimal in comparison to his impact on the team. He entered the All-Star break on a high note as the Sixers outlasted the Cavs 118-112. Melton contributed 17 points, four assists and two rebounds.
He provided some insight on his mindset.
“Our team is resilient,”Melton said. “I feel like every game is kind of different — the matchups, the schemes and stuff like that — so we’ll just continue to fight, play our game and come out with a victory.”
“We have to go out there, play hard, play free, and just play defense,” Melton continued. “I think when we do those three things, with the team we got, the skill we got, I think more times than not, we’re coming out with the results we want.”
The 76ers will return to action Thursday night as they host the Memphis Grizzlies at 7:30 p.m.