It happened, it finally happened; after weeks and weeks of anticipation, the Philadelphia 76ers have drafted David Roddy out of Colorado State… only to trade him to the Memphis Grizzlies for veteran off-ball guard De’Anthony Melton.
That’s right, after seemingly spending the entire day trying to get a deal done for Eric Gordon, the Sixers opted instead, for one reason or another, to go in a different direction and procure a player with a similar set of skills but a much lower price of admission.
Oh yeah, and did I mention that Melton was born in the 1990s and is almost a full decade younger than Gordon? Because that is thankfully the case.
Will there be more shoes to drop? Potentially so. Could the Philadelphia 76ers still move on from players like Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, and maybe even Tobias Harris in the pursuit of a roster more perfectly tailored to their Big 3 of Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and James Harden? Yes as well, but for now, De’Anthony Melton is a member of the Sixers, and his presence on the team is going to make the players around him that much better.
Melton adds much-needed defense to the Philadelphia 76ers’ rotation.
DeAnthony Melton is a classic example of a 3-and-D backcourt performer. Whether lined up at the two, plugged into the lineup at the point, or even used as a three, where his 6-foot-8.5 wingspan makes up for his 6-foot-2 height, Melton can score off of the dribble a bit, move around without the ball in his hands, and most crucially of all, hit catch-and-shoot 3s at a 40.6 percent clip.
Since making his way to Memphis, where his career really took off after his rookie season with the Phoenix Suns, Melton has averaged 9.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and .5 blocks as a player who has averaged just 20.9 minutes per game. He’s become a very good two-guard playing off of both traditional point guards like Tyus Jones and uber-athletic drivers like Ja Morant, and through it all has developed into a certified off-ball presence, where he’s cashed in on-ball duties for a more expansive offensive game built around driving, cutting, passing, and shooting without much work around the key – aka the no-mans-land of modern-day, analytics-based shooting.
And on defense? Well, Melton is a certified dog the likes of which Philly has been looking for.
Like Thybulle, Melton is an elite passing lane disruptor who is constantly on the lookout for steals and opportunities to give ball handlers a tough time. In Memphis, Melton was used as a top-of-the-key defender, as a positional defender who would lock in versus an opposing team’s top guard, and even as an off-ball defender, where his long arms and fantastic vision makes him a threat to disrupt passes, pull in offensive rebounds, and block the ball when it goes into the air.
If the Sixers weren’t going to trade pick 23 to get off of Tobias Harris’ contract or use it to procure a big-time star as part of a bigger package, securing a 24-year-old two-way wing who can shoot, score, defend, and pass is a pretty darn good value, even if it means saying goodbye to Danny Green in the process.
Are the Philadelphia 76ers done? No. If they want to pay P.J. Tucker $30 million over three years, they still need to get off of roughly $2.69 million to unlock the full mid-level exception. But after having more than a few very realistic scenarios that could have gone really, really, really wrong, the decision to bet on a player like Melton, who still has two years left on a four-year, $34.6 million contract is a pretty good outcome, especially since it didn’t cost Matisse Thybulle to get the deal done.