As one of NBA Twitter’s favorite analytical darlings, De’Anthony Melton set some career high’s across the board for the Grizzlies last season. Mr. Do Something did a little bit of everything as he averaged 9.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game while also shooting nearly 44% from the field and 41.2% from beyond the arc. Melton (and Desmond Bane) impressed the Grizzlies coaching staff and front office enough to where they felt they were ready to move on from Grayson Allen this past offseason and open up extra minutes for that duo this upcoming season.
De’Anthony Melton has been a great player off the bench for the Grizzlies the past two seasons. He’s been excellent defensively, using his long arms to deflect passes or poke the ball away and create turnovers. He’s also seen his offensive game grow as he heads into his 3rd year with the Grizzlies. Melton has always been a fine shooter in catch-and-shoot situations, but he improved to 43% on those types of shots from beyond the arc. Where Melton really impressed last season, though, was his 41.5% shooting on pull up shots (36.2% from beyond the arc. These numbers are much better than his first season in Memphis where he shot just 27.4% on pull up jumpers and 17.5% from beyond the arc. His ability to create for himself opened things up more for the Grizzlies second unit and put more pressure on the opposing defense. The confidence to shoot off the dribble has been key for Melton in becoming a knock-down shooter from beyond the arc.
Melton acknowledged he needs to continue to grow this area of his game and that it was something he prioritized in offseason workouts ahead of this season.
Melton will need to continue to use that pull up success but needs to become more of a threat inside the arc with it, since he was successful but had less than 1 pull up attempt inside the arc per game last season. Growing into a legitimate 3-level scorer would do wonders for Melton, who already shines on the defensive side of the ball. He seems to have figured out how to be effective from beyond the arc but as he noted at Media Days, he needs to be more aggressive attacking the basket. Melton shot 80% from the free throw line last season, but averaged just one attempt per game. Getting to the line more should help earn him some free points, as well as get the opposing defense in foul trouble.
Melton’s improved 3-point shooting should likely help him in his attempt to be better around the rim. You can see in the clip below the disrespect that defenses had for Melton’s 3-point shot. Howard is sagging off in the paint and Shake Milton is going under the screen freeing Melton for the triple. However, should Milton try and fight through the screen with Howard proving some sort of close out, Melton would have a lane to attack the basket where he could get a layup attempt or drop it off for a teammate to get the easy bucket.
Melton’s next evolution will need to become a 3-level scorer and this year will be big for him in those regards. Defenses will know he can knock down an open shot, so Melton will need to be able to grow his offensive game as defenses prepare more for him.
Another area of growth for Melton will be ball-handling and facilitating as Melton has averaged under 3 assists per game in his Grizzlies tenure. The Grizzlies have experimented with using Melton as a primary ball-handler in various offensive sets, or to just give Tyus Jones or Ja Morant a possession or two off the ball. So far there have been mixed results. Last season was certainly better for Melton as a semi-point guard but he hasn’t been able to run the offense like a true point. Melton may never need to play like a true point guard, even with Tyus on an expiring contract, but he’ll need to become more of a facilitator to keep defenses honest.
The biggest thing for Melton, however, will be putting together a full season. Melton was much better before the All Star break where he scored 10.1 points per game on 47.2% shooting (42.3% from beyond the arc) but in 32 games after the All Star break Melton averaged 8.5 points on 41.4% shooting (40.6% from beyond the arc). Playing basically every other night didn’t help, but Melton will need to become a more consistent contributor this upcoming season. He showed a ton of flashes early last season, but fizzled down the stretch and in the playoffs.
Despite the struggles late in the season, many are still high on Melton entering this season. He’s one of Twitter’s “dark horse” favorites for Sixth Man of the Year, with Matt Moore of The Action Network leading the charge.
Melton proved himself to the Grizzlies brass last season to earn a larger role this upcoming season, and he will certainly get the minutes to continue to grow.