Scouting new Sixers Melton and House, once a strong summer league duo


Back in 2018, Danuel House Jr. and De’Anthony Melton were the leading scorers for the Houston Rockets’ summer league team. 

They won’t do the same for the 2022-23 Sixers.

Still, as the video above covers, both players have a variety of ways in which they should help their new team. Here are a few additional thoughts on the reunited duo:

Melton’s exceptional defense 

Gary Payton II led the league in steals per 36 minutes last season. Matisse Thybulle was No. 2 and Melton tied for No. 3 with 2.3 steals per 36.

Though he’s 24 years old, Melton has enough of an NBA track record that it’s reasonable to expect he’ll continue to play statistically elite, disruptive defense. In each of his four seasons, he’s rated in the 94th percentile or higher among combo guards in steal rate, per Cleaning the Glass.

He plays bigger than his listed height of 6-foot-2. Melton was actually 6-2.25 without shoes at the 2018 NBA draft combine, and his 6-8.5 wingspan often pops off the screen. He uses his length to make thrilling recovery blocks and snag passes that opponents assumed were open, but Melton knows contesting a jumper is just fine when a spectacular highlight isn’t realistic. Melton gambles and fouls less than Thybulle.

In each of the last two seasons, Memphis lineups with Melton ranked in the 99th percentile for transition frequency. Essentially, when he was on the court, the Grizzlies had lots of fun in the open floor. 

That lines up with all of the forced turnovers (and playing with Ja Morant, of course), although it’s significant for the Sixers that Melton’s first instinct after a steal isn’t to fling the ball to a better ball handler. Melton looks ahead for the open man and doesn’t appear especially uncomfortable with any aspect of life in transition. That might sound basic, but Melton should fill a healthy chunk of the Ben Simmons void that contributed last year to the Sixers' diminished transition threat and reliance on half-court offense.

Where should Melton play? 

Melton was more a shooting guard than a true point guard in Memphis. 

In 2022-23, he played as a two-guard alongside either Morant or Tyus Jones in his 14 most frequent lineups. 

What does that mean for Melton on the Sixers? Tyrese Maxey is likely to have greater opportunity to unleash his speed when he’s next to his new teammate. We imagine Maxey will also tend to be the team’s primary ball handler in those lineups. Though Melton certainly doesn’t mind having the ball in his hands, Maxey is the better decision-maker and superior at breaking down his man, shooting off the dribble, attacking the rim, and most other skills in the half court.

Catch and shoot has become a comfort zone for Melton, which is laudable for a player who shot only 28.4 percent from three-point range in his single college season and 29.4 percent over his first two years in the NBA. Of Melton’s 5.1 three-point tries per game last season, 3.6 were catch-and-shoot attempts, per He made 40.6 percent of those shots — nearly 10 percent higher than his percentage on pull-ups. 

Melton admits he’s been a streaky shooter, but he’s come to understand what works (and what doesn’t) for him.

“I would say for me just making sure my base is wide," Melton told reporters in March, according to The Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Damichael Cole. "Make sure I got a solid, good foundation to start there because I used to bring my feet in too close. Just establishing that and making sure I get under the ball. Use my legs, too. Those three things I definitely try to go through every day."

If Melton keeps running hot and cold, that wouldn’t necessarily be a disaster for the Sixers. Non-stars who can catch fire from long range — Danny Green going a combined 11 for 15 from deep during the Sixers’ two home playoff wins over the Heat, for example — are very nice to have. And Melton’s defensive talents ensure he’s not jumper-dependent. 

How much can Sixers count on House? 

As a rookie, House played more games with the Delaware 87ers (seven) than the Washington Wizards (one).

When House debuts for the Sixers, he’ll have played 205 NBA games for six teams. Over 150 of his NBA appearances are with the Rockets.

Is everyone in the league besides Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey missing how good House is? That’s an oversimplification, but to see House signing 10-day contracts last season was strange. He’s an athletic 3-and-D wing theoretically in his prime years. 

House’s long-distance shots didn’t drop in the playoffs (2 for 10), but the 6-foot-6 Houston native secured a place in the Jazz’s postseason rotation. His effort garnered strong reviews from Utah’s stars.

“He’s a guy that, for most of my career, I’ve played against — he was a really good defender, good shooter, a guy with energy, just knows how to play the game, you know? He knows his role and he tries to be a star in it,” Donovan Mitchell told reporters in February, per The Salt Lake Tribune’s Eric Walden.

There’s some entertaining quirkiness to House’s game — unusual finishes after slashing into the paint; reading situations well when the game goes off script and strays from its typical rhythm; even trying the occasional James Harden-style step-back three imitation.

More importantly, House meets Joel Embiid’s logical desire for “willing shooters” — Morey used that exact term in the Sixers’ press release on House’s signing — and is capable of stringing together intense, controlled, intelligent defensive sequences both on and off the ball. 

The Sixers shouldn’t expect House to be a million classes above the average NBA journeyman. The team needed a playoff-level two-way wing, though, and it got one in House. 

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