Sixers playoff X-factors: De’Anthony Melton

Philadelphia 76ers’ De’Anthony Melton, left, goes up for a shot past Detroit Pistons’ Jalen Duren during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

De’Anthony Melton has been an absolute steal for the Philadelphia 76ers. After the draft night trade that sent him from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Sixers in exchange for Danny Green and the 23rd selection in the 2022 NBA Draft (which became David Roddy), fans were excited for the 3&D guard to showcase his talents.

Known not only as an average to above-average three-point shooter, but also as one of the best perimeter defenders in the entire league? On a team-friendly deal, what’s not to love?

What does Melton bring to the Sixers?

Philadelphia 76ers guard De’Anthony Melton (8) drives past Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, left, forward Derrick Jones Jr. and guard Alex Caruso (6) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

In his first season in Philadelphia, De’Anthony Melton has been exactly what the Sixers needed. On offense, he is a steady contributor, averaging 10.1 points per game while dealing out 2.6 assists and grabbing 4.1 rebounds per game. He’s also shooting efficiently with 42.5/39.0/79.3 shooting splits. This is more or less exactly what you want in your sixth man.

However, his biggest contribution to the team is on his defensive side. On the defensive side of the court, no regular counting stats really show Melton’s ability. His steal numbers look nice (1.6 per game), and his deflected passes are equally impressive (3.0 per night), yet it still remains that no one stat really shows off how great of defense he plays. He has the ability to lock down any team’s top guard.

What will his role be against the Nets?

Philadelphia 76ers’ De’Anthony Melton drives against Atlanta Hawks’ Aaron Holiday during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)

Melton will more than likely be the lead-off sixth man for Philadelphia come playoff time. In his short career, Melton has already played 15 games in the playoffs, which will help stabilize the bench and provide playoff veteran leadership, something that has plagued the Sixers in playoffs past.

With the Brooklyn Nets playoff series, look for Melton to play a pivotal role for the Sixers in defending the Nets’ multi-pronged offensive attack. With Mikal Bridges, Spencer Dinwiddie, Cam Johnson, and Cam Thomas, Melton will be an X-Factor in the Brooklyn Nets series and in the playoffs beyond that.