Season grades for 76ers’ key bench players
De’Anthony Melton — A-
Onto the other big offseason acquisition, De’Anthony Melton has been a total delight. He is a near perfect fit with Embiid and Harden which is likely one reason Doc Rivers chose to start him over Maxey for a big stretch of the season. Melton has been better than advertised. He is an extremely competent shooter and has even been successful at hitting threes in transition and in the clutch. This is incredible considering his calling card is his defensive ability. Admittedly, he may have been a disappointment on that end, but he is still an elite defender and provides the ball-handling ability this team did not have with Danny Green last year. It has been a home run of a trade, and I’d expect to see more three guard lineups with Melton, Maxey, and Harden all at once because of how good Melton has been.
Shake Milton — B-
There was a time that Shake Milton looked like a star bench player just a few years ago. Since then, Milton has looked mostly lost with occasional moments of brilliance. To his credit, Milton has become a much more steady player this year and really stepped up when Harden and Maxey missed time with injuries. It is not his best he has looked in a Sixers uniform, but it is arguably the most reliable.
Georges Niang — C
Maybe a C is a bit too harsh for Niang as he has had some really great moments and stretches, but Niang will likely be unplayable in the playoffs given his defensive limitations. Niang has also been horrendous to end the season aside from the Hawks game. There is an argument that when the shot is not falling, Niang is the worst player in the league. However, the shot does usually fall for him, but the limitations are still very apparent. If it were not Danuel House potentially being injured to start the playoffs, Niang could be glued to the bench for the postseason run.
Jalen McDaniels — B
Though the Sixers may have given up the best pick and best player in the trade for McDaniels, he has been better than expected. McDaniels had never been on a good team in the NBA and many were skeptical about how meaningful his stats were. As it turned out, McDaniels smoothly transitioned into a solid role player on a contending team. He has been a poor man’s Jerami Grant for a team that desperately needs that type of player. At this point, there is a legitimate argument to start him given how well he fits in contrast to Tobias Harris. This was not Morey’s best trade, but given avoiding the luxury tax may have been the main motivation to doing the trade, McDaniels has been a solid addition to the team.
Danuel House Jr. — B
Considering how the season started, it is an absolute miracle that House is worthy of a B. He started the season leaving everyone wondering why the team used its mid-level exception on him. That still may be the case, given he was playing on ten-day contracts last year, but House developed into someone worthy of a rotation spot as the season progressed and should push Niang for minutes in the postseason if healthy. While still a questionable signing, House is an athletic wing defender with some shooting prowess. That is a difficult set of skills to acquire in the NBA.
Montrezl Harrell — F
This is mostly a statement about Doc Rivers, but Montrezl Harrell does not have any NBA skills at this point, yet he continued to play and sabotage the team by doing so. He is no longer the hyper athlete he was and that combined with his lack of size is a recipe for disaster. If he plays in the postseason, the Sixers are doomed and Doc Rivers should be fired on the spot.
Paul Reed — B+
In contrast to Harrell, Paul Reed is a perfectly capable, athletic center that is worthy of being the everyday backup. Throughout the year, Reed has been fighting an uphill battle with a coach that refuses to play Reed despite him being the only good option for backup center minutes. Luckily, Reed has seemingly won the battle for the moment. His combination of size, athleticism, and defense is a very intriguing weapon in the postseason and it should be interesting to see how the rotation shakes out.