Grizz Lead

Melton’s Improved Offense a Huge Plus for Memphis

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When the Memphis Grizzlies made a trade with the Phoenix Suns this offseason, many saw Josh Jackson as the biggest pick-up for the Grizzlies. While that may end up true in a few years, De’Anthony Melton has made his impact felt first in Memphis. At the time of the trade, Melton was hurt, causing his playing opportunity to be delayed. Now healthy, Melton has worked his way into steady minutes, and is establishing a good rhythm with the team.

Melton missed the entire off-season recovering from an injury, and saw inconsistent minutes to start the season. He emerged as a consistent rotation player at the beginning of December, averaging 21 minutes in 12 games so far this month. He’s gained trust from head coach Taylor Jenkins, and it’s easy to see why. Melton leads the team with a 12.2 net rating in December, and is the only Grizzly with a positive rating for the season. He’s arguably the team’s best perimeter defender, and has shown promise leading the second unit.

Local Legendary Praise

Melton is a defensive-minded guard. He has received high praise from fans for his defensive play, including Memphis legend Tony Allen.

He has shown great flexibility for the team, and has defended positions 1-3. While only standing 6’2″, Melton uses his 6’9″ wingspan to irritate his opponents. His high defensive IQ helps him come up with an excellent amount of steals and blocks. As a rookie last year, Melton became one of just eight players in the past 10 seasons to play 900+ minutes while maintaining a steal percentage above 3 percent and a block percentage above 1.5 percent. He’s in position to post those numbers again this season. He has a strong chance to become the next great defender in Memphis.

No Longer an Offensive Liability

Melton’s offensive game has shown small signs of improvement. His shooting percentages have improved across the board, and he has proven he is no longer an offensive liability. He has looked increasingly confident serving as the primary ball-handler for the second unit when Tyus Jones sits. Melton has spent time lined up next to Dillon Brooks and Ja Morant without compromising the offensive flow. Playing off of them has allowed him to get shots in his comfort zone and serve as a cutter, causing his shot distribution to shift dramatically.

Per Basketball Reference, Melton’s two-point field goal attempts have increased nearly 10% from last season, and he’s stopped taking shots from 10-16 feet. He’s getting to the rim much more regularly, which is a great sign. His free throw attempts have tripled from last year, despite his field goal attempts remaining almost the exact same.

Another good sign for Melton is the growing chemistry among him and the other young players in Memphis. Per Cleaning The Glass, The three-man unit of Melton, Brandon Clarke and Jaren Jackson Jr. has a +40 net rating over 114 possessions they’ve played together. That’s a great sign going forward, as those three could serve as the backbone of another elite Memphis defense. Melton has also been a part of the Grizzlies’ closing lineups recently, which shows a high level of trust from the coaching staff.

De’Anthony Melton is emerging as another key piece in the Grizzlies’ rebuild. He’s a player that reminds many fans of the past, while also representing the future. He’s a player to keep an eye on as the team grows.

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About Richmond Bailey Caldwell

Die-hard Grizzlies fan since 2009. Aspiring basketball writer and coach. University of Georgia sport management alum. Perennial first team all-defense selection.

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