Sixers: 3 players who have to step up after 0-3 start

Sixers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Sixers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports /

De’Anthony Melton has to figure out his role offensively

There are no major complaints about De’Anthony Melton‘s defense. While there’s a corner of the Sixers fandom that still yearns for the frenetic energy of Matisse Thybulle, the Sixers should be just fine without him so long as Melton spearheads the bench unit. Melton is averaging 1.3 steals per game so far and is every bit the deflections magnet we’ve come to expect.

That said, the offensive end of the floor has been much tougher sledding for the Sixers’ draft-night acquisition. Melton averaged 10.8 points per game on .404/.374/.750 splits with Memphis last season. While the efficiency has translated to Philly, the volume has not. Melton is simply not involved in the offense right now, and when he does touch the ball, it’s seldom in an advantageous position.

Coming out of the preseason there was mild concern as to whether or not Doc Rivers and the Sixers were going to properly utilize Melton. He should not be tasked with handling the ball and running the offense. He’s much more of a wing than a guard on offense, best suited to spot-up 3s and attacking downhill off the catch. It’s clear Melton just hasn’t established chemistry with Joel Embiid and James Harden yet. Those are two very unique offensive stars with highly specialized offensive tempos. Melton is not operating at their speed yet.

The Grizzlies out-ran teams last season behind the blazing transition playmaking of Ja Morant. The Sixers are much slower, more methodical in the halfcourt. One could levy that as a criticism — and the Sixers should seek to exploit Tyrese Maxey’s speed in the open court more often — but at the end of the day, Melton will have to learn to live with Embiid and Harden. They are not Ja Morant, and the offense will run differently than what he’s used to in Memphis.

It will take time, but Melton’s current average of 4.7 points per game will not hold. He’s too good a shooter and too key a player to remain so quiet.