Sixers: 3 players who have exceeded expectations at quarter-season mark

Sixers logo (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Sixers who have exceeded expectations: De’Anthony Melton

I’m not sure the Sixers fandom properly appreciated the magnitude of the De’Anthony Melton trade when it happened. Heck, trading their only pick on draft night might have felt anticlimactic to some. But Melton rocks, and acquiring him (in the middle stretch of his exceedingly affordable second contract) for a late first-round pick and the expiring contract of Danny Green, who has spent all season recovering from ACL surgery, qualifies as highway robbery.

Daryl Morey is an elite orchestrater of trades. Basically every move he has made on the trade market has been lopsided in Philadelphia’s favor. He got them out from under Al Horford and Josh Richardson. And now, he has landed them a potentially foundational 24-year-old who plays both sides of the ball.

Melton’s averages look fairly vanilla on the surface: 11.0 points and 3.3 assists in 28.1 minutes per game. All are career highs, but nothing jumps off the page. What Melton does do, however, is jump off the screen. He’s a special defender (2.1 steals per game), offering Thybulle-level chaos without sacrificing the success of the offense. A 36 percent 3-point shooter for his career, Melton’s 3-point volume and connective skills offensively have fit hand-in-glove with Philly’s stars. He has also been able to scale up and produce bigger numbers in the absence of said stars (15.7 points, 4.0 assists, and 3.5 steals in 34.0 minutes per game since Maxey went down).

As someone who personally held very high expectations for Melton coming into the season, even I have been blown away. He’s the perfect role player for this team and the exact type of two-way Swiss Army Knife the team has perpetually lacked alongside Joel Embiid. Expect Melton to continue shining all the way through the postseason.

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