De’Anthony Melton was originally traded from Phoenix with his teammate Josh Jackson, when the Memphis Grizzlies sent Jevon Carter to the Suns. Melton was received to be a guy that Memphis could get a good look at to see if he would be a solid rotational guy.
Memphis Grizzlies Public Relations made it public on September 26th, before training camp, that Melton wouldn’t see any basketball activities for 4-8 weeks due to a lower back injury.
Three and a half weeks removed from that tweet, and Melton was on the floor for the Grizzlies playing at the end of their season opener against the Heat on October 23rd. Granted, it was only three minutes, but a lot goes into preparing for an NBA game - even if you play five minutes.
For Melton, his talent and potential isn’t necessarily riding-the-bench material. And while you should expect the Grizzlies medical staff to be more than careful with his return to the floor, five minutes a game restrictions just do not seem right for several reasons.
Five minutes a game doesn’t do much for several reasons, and with Melton’s potential -theoretically, if he is healthy - the Grizzlies need to find a spot in the rotation for him. Listen, it’s not like the Grizzlies wing depth is full of talent. Third year guard Dillon Brooks has shown that he is right to be in the rotation at times, but inconsistency has been the story for Brooks and newcomers Grayson Allen and Marko Guduric.
So, here we are. Having reason to question - what is going on with Melton? A guy that will be on track with majority of this roster in terms of using this season to continue growing. It is just his second season in the NBA, and year one showed that he has the tools to be something in this league.
Melton averaged 5.0 points per game, 1.5 steals per game, and shot 39 percent from the field. It doesn’t sound great, but Melton has shown that he has the intangibles to be a solid NBA player, and in year two, it is pivotal that Melton continues to progress.
With Melton, Memphis can run their starting offense similar to their bench offense. The difference? Melton gives the backup rotation that defensive wing threat they have been lacking. Melton is also a guy that Memphis can trust with the ball in his possession - especially at his age.
Early feedback from Phoenix was that his IQ on both ends of the floor is way ahead of his age. Melton’s defensive energy is there nightly. If you’re Memphis, you aren’t giving anything up by replacing Allen or Guduric with Melton in the rotation.
Thing is, the feedback since the trade from a national standpoint is that Melton could potentially start for the Grizzlies at the guard spot, but due to the injury, now the chatter is just getting rotational minutes from the Grizzlies.
It is clear the Melton will be on some kind of minutes restriction since rehabbing his back injury. Let’s see if Coach Jenkins opens up the rotation to give Melton valuable minutes within the first two quarters of game action in the next week.
If the inconsistency at the guard spot continues, look for Melton start seeing some early game action.
Of course rust will be apart of the process, but just by a sample size of Guduric, Allen and Brooks, Melton is needed right now by this Grizzlies team earlier in games, with or without a minutes restriction.