‘Mr. Do Something' happens to be best where Sixers need to improve


The 2021-22 Sixers and De'Anthony Melton share few flaws. 

Acquiring Melton on Thursday night in exchange for Danny Green and the 23rd pick (Colorado State product David Roddy) obviously does not mean the Sixers will be better in every way. But it’s likely reasonable to assume the deal decreases their chances of losing in the same ways. 

Grizzlies color commentator Brevin Knight calls Melton “Mr. Do Something.” The 24-year-old guard is known as a streaky shooter, but he’s not nearly as jumper-dependent as Furkan Korkmaz or Georges Niang, two Sixers who played important postseason minutes last year. 

He’s also not like Matisse Thybulle in needing to lean on sensational steals and blocks. If one part of his game isn’t clicking, Melton is still perfectly capable of playing well. Compared to the prospects the Sixers could have drafted (and kept) at No. 23, there’s less reason to doubt Melton will be a player who makes playoff teams better. That won't be new for him.

It’s striking to list off Melton’s strengths and their intersections with issues that frustrated the Sixers throughout last season. Melton checks off Joel Embiid’s “willing shooter” box (5.1 three-point tries in 22.7 minutes per game) and he’s exceeded 40 percent on catch-and-shoot triples each of the last two years. 

Defensively, Melton is troublesome on ball handlers, uses his 6-8.5 wingspan to great effect and officially finished second in the NBA in steal percentage. Only Thybulle was ahead of him. Without Ben Simmons, the Sixers turned from an excellent to mediocre team at creating turnovers. According to Cleaning the Glass, they dropped from third in defensive turnover percentage to 17th. Melton is impactful in that category and equipped to make the Sixers slightly less reliant on executing against well-organized half-court defenses. 

Melton is a strong rebounder for his position (9.5 rebounds per 100 possessions) joining a team that lacked them. 

When he spoke very early Friday morning, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey had to do some dancing around the Melton deal not being stamped off yet by the NBA. He was open to broader questions, though, including how much he prioritizes players who might shore up recognized weaknesses relative to players who are good in a more holistic sense. 

“I generally go for the best player that we can get,” Morey said, “and then try to figure it out. … If you sort of lock in, ‘We’re going to do X,’ it can lead to missing opportunities and ideas on if you get this player, you can maybe do some other moves to make it all work. So I don’t go in with any preconceived notion.”

Melton is an (imperfect) role player and his presence won’t singlehandedly solve every one of the Sixers’ problems. But it’s sure nice for the team that apparently, in Morey’s estimation, the best player they could pick up for the injured Green and a late first-round pick also has been stellar in areas that last year’s Sixers were decidedly not. 

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