Trade Breakdown: De’Anthony Melton to Sixers


This is the fourth entry in our series breaking down the top trades of the 2022 offseason. Instead of giving ratings, this series will explore Why the teams were motivated to take action. Let’s dive into a draft day exchange between the Sixers and Grizzlies

On the night of the 2022 draft, the Sixers traded the No. 23 pick (David Roddy) and Danny Green to the Grizzlies in exchange for De’Anthony Melton. Unfortunately, Green suffered a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee during Philadelphia’s loss to Miami in the second round of the playoffs last season. He therefore risks missing a significant part of the 2022/23 season if not. all year.


The Sixers’ perspective:

Why were the Sixers motivated to trade their top pick for a bench player?

For starters, there’s a lot of variability with first-round picks, especially as you go down into the 20s. The likelihood of the No. 23 pick becoming an immediate contributor on a championship-seeking team is pretty slim.

As an example, look no further than Philadelphia’s last two first-round selections, which show the risk inherent in trading a first-rounder, as well as the aforementioned variability.

In 2020, the Sixers chose Tyrese Maxey at No. 21 overall. He had a decent rookie season, appearing in 60 games (15.3 MPG) averaging 8.0 PPG, 1.7 RPG, and 2.0 APG on .462/.301/.871 shooting. You could see his speed and shooting ability, and his free throw percentage was encouraging, but what would happen with him last season wasn’t exactly predictable.

In Year 2, Maxey exploded onto the scene as an emerging star, appearing in 75 games (74 starts, 35.3 MPG) with averages of 17.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and 4.3 APG on .485/.427/.866 shot. Maxey went from a commercial chip to virtually untouchable in the space of a few months, finishing sixth in the Most Improved Player award race (I personally had him second behind Desmond Scourge and had no qualms with anyone who thought he should have won).

In contrast, the Sixers selected Jaden Springer with the No. 28 pick in 2021. Springer played just two regular season games as a rookie last season, spending most of the season in the G League with Philadelphia affiliate Delaware Blue Coats (he also made five playoff cameos). In 20 regular season games with the Blue Coats, he averaged 14.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 1.7 SPG on .470/.241/.651 shooting.

Springer, one of the youngest players in his draft class, is still just 19 (he’ll be 20 in September), but he looked tough on the edges of Summer League action and doesn’t seem close to contributing at the NBA level anytime soon. soon. It’s not a personal blow against Springer, it’s just an example of the dice roll that accompanies any player’s draft.

Melton, on the other hand, is a more proven commodity, and he would have been coveted by league teams. Now entering his fifth season, Melton is still only 24, so it’s not like he’s a finished product, but he’s shown he can be a productive player at the NBA level.

A big part of what has made Melton such a hot commodity in the commercial market is his defense. Although he is only 6’2″, Melton has a wingspan of 6’8″ and is one of the best defensemen in the NBA. I’m not a big fan of using advanced stats to gauge defensive impact, but they almost universally like Melton at this end of the field.

A very good athlete who plays with physicality, a lot of energy and a talent for the ball, Melton gets a lot of deflections (2.8 per game), steals (1.4) and blocks (0.5) for a keep. In fact, he was one of the league leaders in his standing in all of those categories on a per-minute basis (he averaged 22.7 MPG last season).

He’s also an exceptional rebounder (4.5 RPG) who likes to pick up the pace in transition. These are hugely beneficial attributes for a 29-ranked Sixers teame rebound and 25e on pace last season.

Melton should be a great complement next to Maxey or James Harden, or both. Harden tends to play better defensively against bigger players, so allowing Melton, who is a far superior defender to either of his new bottom mates, to defend the opposing team’s best guard rings a bell. good on paper.

It is an immediate and major upgrade on both Shake Milton and Furkan Korkmaz defensively, and a better offensive player than Matisse Thybulle. They were Philadelphia’s top three reserve guards at the end of last season.

Melton will earn $8.25m next season and his $8m salary in 2023/24 is partially guaranteed at $1.5m, so he has a reasonable contract and is eligible for an extension this offseason, though. that Philadelphia wants to wait and see approach before making this decision.

There are a few other things to note about the Melton acquisition. President of Sixers Basketball Operations Daryl Morey actually drafted Melton with Houston in 2018 before joining him at ryan anderson in a salary dump move, so Morey knows the goalie game from his only college season with USC.

Melton was basically treated as a non-shooter in his first two NBA seasons, making just 29.4% of his three-pointers in that time, but he’s improved dramatically in that area over the past two seasons. , shooting 38.8% from deep. much higher volume. Be able to space the soil around Joel Embid is vital to Philadelphia’s offensive flow and spacing, so while Melton can run hot and cold, he should have plenty of open eyes.

Finally, Melton is a combo guard, and because Harden, Embiid and Maxey control the ball so much, the fact that Melton will be an auxiliary player instead of a primary ball handler is an added bonus. That’s not to say he’s bad at playing the point, it’s just not his main strength.

The Grizzlies’ perspective:

If Melton is such a solid young player, why were the Grizzlies willing to deal with him? Why not just keep it?

Memphis is one of the few teams in the league that has the luxury of getting rich in multiple positions, and backcourt depth is perhaps the team’s greatest strength. Led by newbies Ja Morant and Desmond Scourgethe Grizzlies had Tyus JonesMelton, John Konchar and Zaire Williams in contention for minutes at guard (Williams also spent a lot of time up front last season and could open the season there due to Jaren Jackson Juniorthe injury of . and Kyle Andersonleaving for Minnesota in free agency).

Melton’s strengths weren’t necessarily redundant among this group of players – he was the guards’ best defender – but moving him erases extra minutes for his former teammates. Jones re-signed with Memphis as an unrestricted free agent on a two-year, $30 million deal, and the Grizzlies later gave Konchar an extension (Williams was a rookie last season and still has him left). three years on his first NBA contract).

Melton has also seen his role reduced and his offensive production drop significantly in two straight playoffs, averaging just 5.8 PPG, 3.1 RPG and 1.4 APG on 0.333/0.266/0.667 in 15 career playoff games (16.9 MPG). That may have contributed to Memphis’ decision to move him.

Acquiring first-round picks isn’t easy, but GM Zach Kleiman was consistently aggressive in his dealings with them during his tenure, and he got an experienced college player in Roddy, a linebacker-built forward (6’5″, 252 lbs) with a unique skill set. had a great junior season for Colorado State, averaging 19.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.2 SPG, and 1.1 BPG on 0.571/0.438/0.691 in 31 games ( 32.9 MPG).

There’s no guarantee that Roddy will reach the level of player that Melton is, but like I said, there was a stalemate of a few minutes in the backcourt, and Roddy’s contract will pay him a little less $13 million over four years, down from $16.25 million. ($9.75 million guaranteed) Melton will win over the next two years.

Both financially and from a long-term upside perspective, it was an understandable bet. If Roddy does the type of jump that Maxey was able to do in his sophomore year, it might look like a home run. Only time will tell.

As previously mentioned, the Grizzlies also acquired Green, although his future with the team is far less certain. One of the league’s most reliable 3-D players of the past decade, hopefully Green can make a comeback to the NBA and eventually get out on his terms. At 35, it’s hard to say how much he has left in the tank, but he had a great career, winning three championships with the Spurs, Raptors and Lakers.

In the meantime, he’s a good veteran to have for a young Memphis team, and medium-sized contracts like his expiring $10 million contract are still useful for trade purposes, even if he doesn’t end up making it. contributions on the field this season. .