When the Memphis Grizzlies acquired DeAnthony Melton via trade with the Phoenix Suns, there was a good amount of excitement, and unknown. I asked Brendon Kleen, who covered Melton his rookie season for the “Bright Side Sun” what the young gem could bring to this young Grizzlies roster.
1) DeAnthony Melton showed signs of an identity in year one. We saw him score as much as 21 points in a game, and space the floor. We also saw Melton play really solid defensively in year one. Where did you see Melton shine the brightest?
“Melton’s greatest strength is his team defense. Because he was a bit rusty after sitting out his sophomore season at USC and the weird trade late in the offseason that sent him from Houston to Phoenix, his man defense wasn’t quite at the level it was in college, when he locked down the likes of Markelle Fultz as a freshman. But when Melton could play the passing lanes, lock down off the ball, and support other good defensive players like Mikal Bridges, you really saw the ceiling for Melton come into focus. He has All-Defense potential if he can develop functional strength and find a scheme that maximizes his IQ.”
2) When Melton came out of USC, he was their ‘Swiss Army Knife.’ Averaging 2.5 stl, 1.5 blk, and 8.0 reb per 40 minutes. Did you see Melton do those small things in year one with the Suns, and can you see that being his identity in the NBA?
“Rarely do college players who boast high steal and block rates see those numbers translate right away. But for Melton it translated immediately, with a 3.3 steal rate and 1.9 block rate despite an irregular role and often a defensive matchup that most rookies would sneeze at. He was compared with Patrick Beverley coming out of college and throughout last season, and that’s probably a good comparison, especially if he can add muscle like I said in my previous answer. The offense is an issue though, as his half-court decision-making with the ball in his hands, as well as his shooting touch from all three levels, are big concerns.”
“If he stays on the same track on both ends he’s probably a bench piece/defensive specialist, but his ceiling is probably near a Marcus Smart level of impact down the line.”
3) What is one (or more) thing(s) that surprised you about Melton’s first NBA season?
“Though his decision-making needs work, he still posted a 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio and caught on quickly to Igor Kokoskov’s fairly complicated offense. There were many nights where Melton ran the team in crunch time, and even in losses, that’s impressive for a young guy who missed a year of organized basketball.”
A huge thank you to Brendon Kleen for taking time to give us great analysis of one of the newest Grizzlies. Make sure you follow Brendon on twitter (@BrendonKleen14).
Also follow @sbngrizzlies on twitter for all off your Grizzlies coverage.