Only a matter of time until De'Anthony Melton finds his shot
There are very few players in the NBA I would label a "picture-perfect fit" for the 76ers. De'Anthony Melton suits that role. When the Sixers traded for De'Anthony Melton on draft night, it appeared like he would be a seamless fit with the Sixers, offensively and defensively.
He is young, athletic, incredible instincts on a defense, as well as having an adequate shot from behind the arc. You couldn't build an archetype better that would fit the bill on a team led by Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey. The fact Morey was able to lure Melton away from the Memphis Grizzlies using a dead asset in Danny Green and a draft pick is an incredible use of value.
Last year, Melton shot 37% behind the arc, that would've ranked him with the fourth highest percentage among 76er players behind Maxey, Niang, and Green. His defense was even better. On paper, he had a better defensive season than Matisse Thybulle. His tenacious mentality guarding the perimeter has shades of Ben Simmons (without the insane versatility).
In the small sample size of games that don't even count, his offense has been underwhelming. And yes, it is just preseason, that's true, but it is a totally normal response as a fan to be a tad bit concerned about his shooting.
In three games played, he is shooting 32% from the floor and 18(!!) % from 3-point land. I know, it's disgusting. But, at the end of the day, none of these games count. Cold stretches don't last forever and he is making a transition from two completely different offensive schemes. In his previous squad of a very perimeter centric, drive and kick offense, the Grizzlies only averaged three post-ups per game. The Sixers on the other hand, led the league in post-ups last year with over eight per game, feeding their MVP big-man, Joel Embiid. No doubt, for a perimeter player would take time to familiarize yourself with the offense.
A bulk of his open shot opportunities will come off a Joel Embiid pass. Melton and Embiid have had very limited time on the court this preseason. With the gravity and amount of attention Embiid brings, defenses will double - and even sometimes - triple-team him, creating open shots for wing shooters. Danny Green was able to excel in that role, Melton will mold into that type of shooter as well. Melton will be open, he just has to knock down the shots.
One thing Seth Curry did so great with Joel Embiid was the dribble hand-off. I would love to see a Melton and Embiid DHO implemented into the offense. It creates another element and layer to an already dynamic three-level offense.
Although the offensive woes have materialized for Melton in the preseason, the defense has not wavered. In fact, Melton's best offensive attribute is his defense. De'Anthony Melton is among the league's best players at turning defense into offense, just ask Ja Morant. He received so many easy buckets around the rim that stemmed from a Melton defensive stand.
Shake Milton summed it up perfectly in his media day questioning: "It's going to be an atmosphere of growth." And that's true for Melton too. Patients is the key, as it's only a matter of time until De'Anthony Melton is playing a sizable offensive role on a contending team.