Could De’Anthony Melton step up for the Sixers this season?

Sixers
Philadelphia 76ers’ De’Anthony Melton (8) dribbles pst Boston Celtics’ Derrick White, right, during the second half of Game 3 in an NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinals playoff series, Friday, May 5, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

On a team filled with dramatic veterans and trade rumors, a solid young core is key. De’Anthony Melton is a 25-year-old guard hailing from North Hollywood, California. Picked 46th in the 2018 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns, he spent the majority of his career in Memphis with the Grizzlies from 2019 to 2022. In June of 2022, he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for veteran guard and NBA champ Danny Green.

This decision was a smashing success from Day 1 as Green, 35 at the time of being traded, had not only been showing signs of decline, dropping from 9.5 points per game in 2020-21 to just 5.9 in 2021-22 but also was in the midst of rehabbing a torn ACL. Melton was the perfect exchange and a breath of fresh air for Sixers fans seeking a younger core.

De'Anthony Melton
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.)

During his three seasons in Memphis, Melton earned the nickname ‘Mr. Do Something’ due to his impressive defensive ability on an offense-heavy 2019-20 Grizzlies team. His defensive prowess continued to improve into his time in Philadelphia, and his scoring went up from 7.6 points per game to 10.1 points per game as well. He also shot 42.5% last season, shooting 39% from range as well. Additionally, he logged 4.1 rebounds per game and 2.6 assists per game. With his contract guaranteed for the 2023-24 season, it’s likely De’Anthony Melton will become a Sixers mainstay.

During the 2023 playoffs, Melton averaged 3.2 rebounds and 7.9 points per game across eleven games played. In each of these games, he played between 20 and 30 minutes. Melton is a reliable playoff performer, even against tough defensive matchups like the Boston Celtics and young, developing offensive powerhouses like the Brooklyn Nets.

De'Anthony Melton
Boston Celtics’ Malcolm Brogdon, left, and Philadelphia Philadelphia 76ers’ De’Anthony Melton battle for the ball during the second half of Game 3 in an NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinals playoff series, Friday, May 5, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

At 25 years old, De’Anthony Melton still has room to grow as careers become longer and players hit their primes later and later in the modern NBA. His developed skills as a defensive guard and developing skills on offense are much-needed behind and alongside a moody James Harden and a still-developing Tyrese Maxey.

Melton brings a much-needed burst of energy off the bench, and with the Athletic ranking him in their 5A tier of players, he’s solidified his position as a great role player early in his career. If the Sixers decide not to blow it up, with rumors and hypotheticals about James Harden and Joel Embiid flying off the walls, it’ll be great to see De’Anthony Melton continue to grow on offense and dazzle us on defense in Philadelphia.