There have been rumors swirling about the Sixers’ plans in the draft for several weeks. With Joel Embiid and James Harden aging, the team is locked in on win-now mode. Daryl Morey has been scouring the market in search of value for the 23rd pick. While they were connected to Eric Gordon leading up to the draft, the Sixers elected to go another direction and trade for De’Anthony Melton of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Who is DeAnthony Melton?
A former second-round pick in the 2018 draft, DeAnthony Melton has impressed in his four seasons in the league. He has become an important role player for the Memphis Grizzlies and is just 24 years old. Last season he averaged 10.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.4 steals. He also shot 37.4% on three-point attempts while attempting 5.1 perimeter shots per game. Melton also shot 41.2% on three-point attempts during the 2021 season.
The former USC standout also impresses on the defensive side of the ball. He stands just 6’2” but plays with impressive athleticism. The Grizzlies guard is often seen skying for a slam dunk or collecting a rebound. He took a slight step back as a defender last season but still was an asset on this side of the ball. Melton will be a nice defense pairing alongside Tyrese Maxey and James Harden. Melton is a solid catch-and-shooter, a good finisher, and plays with great activity. He is a ballhawk on the defensive side of the ball and is a competitive defender.
The flash of athleticism and versatility will be a major addition to the Sixers roster. While the emergence of Zaire Williams lessened the need for Melton in the Grizzlies rotation, the Sixers do not have this luxury of depth. Melton will make an immediate impact on the Sixers bench unit and will fit alongside the starters in bursts.
Why the move works for the Sixers
While Sixers fans debated the pros and cons of a win-now veteran versus a rookie, DeAnthony Melton is a nice blend of both. At 24 years old, his best days are still ahead of him; however, he will be a capable contributor to the Sixers’ rotation in the short term.
Daryl Morey still has work to do on constructing the Sixers roster, but this is an excellent place to start. His hard-nosed defense and ball-handling ability are a necessary addition to the current roster. The California native plays with a high IQ, and his above-average rebounding will also be a major help. Securing rebounds on a regular basis has been a consistent weak point with the Sixers and having a guard who out-rebounds his size is a major asset. He is a bit hot and cold, but his high points are greater than the Sixers bench unit has seen in years.
There also are some keycap implications to this deal. DeAnthony Melton remains under contract for two more seasons at just over $8 million per year. The Sixers attached Danny Green to the trade in order to make the salary cap numbers work. While it was disappointing to see Green’s time with the Sixers end with an injury, his contract has been a key trade piece dating back to before this. Green deserves a ton of credit for playing within his role during his time with the Sixers and was an unsung hero on many occasions.
Daryl Morey still has plenty of work to do, and this trade will save them just under $4 million off the salary cap. While Melton answers the call for another ball-handler and tenacious defender, there still is a major need for wing depth. The PJ Tucker and Eric Gordon rumors are sure to continue to swirl, but this is an excellent start to the Sixers’ offseason.