De'Anthony Melton of the Memphis Grizzlies

Sixers: Is De’Anthony Melton part of the Core Four?

by Christopher Kline
The Sixer Sense

The Sixers traded the No. 23 pick (David Roddy) and Danny Green to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for De’Anthony Melton on draft night. The general tone around the fandom was celebratory — Melton’s awesome. But frankly, the collective “we” might have underrated just how awesome Melton is.

After some early bumps in the road, Melton has fully come into his own as a critical part of Philadelphia’s rotation. The 24-year-old may ultimately start too many games to compete for Sixth Man of the Year, but that’s the kind of season Melton is on track for. He’s the perfect complement to Philly’s core players and undoubtedly the kind of player the Sixers should keep around long term.

A whirlwind defensive presence, prolific spot-up shooter, and mostly competent emergency ball-handler, Melton checks a ton of boxes that this team too often left unchecked in years past. I would endeavor to say that Melton, not Tobias Harris, is the fourth member of the Sixers’ co-called “Core Four.”

De’Anthony Melton is everything the Sixers could have hoped for

This is not meant as criticism of Tobias Harris. His sage wisdom in the locker room and willingness to ego-check in face of greater star power has been essential to the Sixers’ success. And he can still scale up and take over games, as proven by his gutsy 24-point performance in Tuesday’s impressive win over Brooklyn.

That being said, let’s just conceptually break down the idea of Core Four. Obviously Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey are locked into the group. And it might simply be more accurate to call them the Big Three and be done with it. But if there’s a fourth member of that group — a player who is truly essential to Philadelphia’s overarching pursuit of success — is it the misfit, overpaid veteran who’s spicing up the trade market, or is it the young two-way guard who is anchoring the perimeter defense and who is an even better perimeter shooter?

I don’t want to be too harsh on Harris. He has bought fully into the 3-and-D role the Sixers require of him. He’s quite efficient in that role too. That said, he will never been completely at home in such a role. He’s too used to ball-handling equity, too used to running pick-and-rolls or attacking downhill. The Sixers still need some of that from him, but not much.

Meanwhile, Harris simply isn’t half the defender that Melton is. He showed up big-time in the playoffs last season, but on the whole it’s best to consider Harris perfectly average on that side of the ball. He’s prone to some bone-headed mistakes, but his size and effort balance the scales.

As for Melton… he might just be better? Remove name and contract from the equation, and it’s hard to formulate a strong argument in Harris’ favor. Melton takes more 3s per-minute and does so quite successfully (40.8 percent on the season). While he lacks Harris’ ability to attack downhill and exploit size advantages in the post, Melton provides more juice as a passer. He’s better connective tissue when everyone’s available, and he’s also capable of scaling up in the face of injuries (22 points on 6-of-10 from deep in the win over Brooklyn). And there’s the defense. Melton is straight-up one of the best guard defenders in the NBA — a whirlpool of length and energy, using his 6-foot-8 wingspan to pick pockets or stuff ball-handlers at the point of attack.

If you factor team need into the equation, then it leans even stronger in Melton’s favor. His defense is absolutely essential to Philadelphia’s success, and it’s why he will close a lot of games this season — even once the stars are back. P.J. Tucker is great, but he’s best weaponized against bigger wings. Matisse Thybulle is great, but he’s borderline unplayable half the time because he can’t shoot. So, the burden of elite guard defense falls to Melton. And he continues to answer the call beautifully.

Maybe we should just call it the Fab Five or something. Truly, Harris does bring a lot to the table in spite of his many flaws and regrettable contract. But Melton is shining in his new home. The Sixers might have fleeced the desperately deep Grizzlies into giving up a real difference-maker on the cheap.

Terrence Davis of the Sacramento Kings

Terence Davis II is on The Rise

By Jason Jones

Beware of the PKs.

That’s short for Preacher’s Kids, occasionally known to be tormentors of congregations with their rebellious antics and their proficiency in profanity, among other misdeeds. In some cases, they are seen as walking headaches that too many adults give a pass. You just can’t say anything bad about the offspring of the officers of the church.

But in other cases, the PKs become solid citizens. Because in the midst of all their resistance to authority, the lessons do stick at some point. Some even follow the path of their parents, taking up residence in the pulpit.

Sacramento Kings guard Terence Davis II, a PK himself, believes there’s more he can and will do on the spiritual side.

Toronto is where Davis began his career, and the team’s G League coach, Patrick Mutombo, joked about Davis being someone who would look to save souls.

“He used to tease me,” Davis told The Athletic. “He said he had a dream of me preaching.”

Basketball Player Greg Monroe

Greg Monroe back in NBA after 2½ years away

Timberwolves coach Chris Finch was asked a couple hours before Monday’s game with Boston at Target Center how much he thought recently signed Greg Monroe would be able to play in his first NBA game in more than 2½ years.

“I don’t know,” Finch said, checking his watch. “Just met him about 30 minutes ago.”

Such is life in the NBA during COVID-19. On the day multiple reports said the league had updated its health and safety protocols with the aim of making quarantine times shorter in many instances, Finch and the rest of the league was still trying to function when he really doesn’t know who will be available until shortly before tipoff.

For example, the Celtics lost Jayson Tatum to the protocols on Monday, bringing their total to nine players. NBA official Tony Brothers was unavailable to work the game for the same reason. The Wolves were without top scorers Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell as well as Naz Reid, Taurean Prince, Jarred Vanderbilt and McKinley Wright IV. Both Patrick Beverley and Josh Okogie returned to practice Sunday. Okogie played Monday, but Finch said Beverley wasn’t quite ready to return; he should be available for Tuesday’s game against New York.

Wolves assistants Micah Nori and Elston Turner were also missing from the Wolves bench Monday, prompting the Wolves to bring Jeff Newton andTim Lewis up from the Iowa Wolves of the G League.

The fact Finch said Jake Layman did some work at the 5 during a walkthrough Monday meant Monroe arriving later in the afternoon, and being available, was big.

The 6-11 Monroe signed his 10-day contract, then donned a uniform. The 31-year-old played in 12 games for Capital City in the G League this year, averaging 10.4 points. He is the third player the Wolves have signed to 10-day deals, along with Rayjon Tucker and Chris Silva.

Finch said Monroe’s ability to pass from the high post and ability to operate in the post would fit in with what the Wolves liked to do. “I don’t think there’s a huge disruption there, in terms of the style of play we have,” Finch said.

And Monroe proved to be more than just a fill-in in the 108-103 victory over the Celtics. He played 25 minutes and collected 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

By Kent Youngblood Star Tribune

De'Anthony Melton dunking

Melton overjoyed with new Grizzlies deal

By Drew Hill, Daily Memphian

De’Anthony Melton let out a chuckle as his smile stretched from ear to ear.

The Grizzlies guard had no trouble finding the words to describe the feeling of signing a four-year, $34 million contract.

The third-year, second-round draft pick has bounced around three NBA teams before finally striking a deal that had the potential to change his financial outlook forever.

“Honestly, the feeling was through the roof,” Melton said. “I can’t even go through just one or two, it’s just, I was feeling everything. It’s a breath of fresh air for me and my family, honestly. So, I’m just ready to work and get better. I have the financial stuff settled; I’m good now. I’m just ready to keep getting better. This is everything I’ve worked for.”

But no deal — especially one worth more than $30 million — is complete without the proper celebration. He decided he would rejoice by giving back to his family.

“I got my mom and sisters cars,” Melton said. “That’s not a surprise anymore, because they already know it. But, yeah, that’s definitely the first thing (I bought). They got cars. Now I just have to work on getting my stuff out here to Memphis and establishing my home and everything like that.”

“Mr. Do Something” is thrilled to be back. Despite predictions that other teams would enter the picture with large offer sheets for the restricted free agent, Melton said the choice to stick with the young core of Grizzlies was easy.

Read the full story at The Daily Memphian.

Louisville Legend Russ Smith Launches Bourbon Brand

Louisville Legend Russ Smith Launches Bourbon Brand

by Jared Ebanks

It wasn’t until Russ Smith found himself surrounded by cherry trees, waterfalls and miles of bright-green foliage among the Fujian province in China that he began to truly appreciate the little things.

Maybe it was the 62 points he averaged in China’s National Basketball League, or the 81 he dropped with Luoyang in 2017. But mostly, as Russ tells us over Zoom, it was the time he spent alone that allowed him the needed headspace to fall in love with a new craft, bourbon.

“It allowed me to really take in what I was doing and just be happy again. My first three years as a pro, yeah, I was getting paid pretty well, but I was unhappy,” he says. “I want to be respected for my craft. And I think that means more to me, my craft being appreciated, my creativity being appreciated.”

Read the full article on SLAM

Russ Smith of Fujian

Russ Smith: The big screen, bourbon, and beyond

Merely six years removed from his illustrious career donning the Louisville basketball red and black, Russ Smith is just getting warmed up.

One of the most prolific scorers in program history has checked the boxes in his athletic career: overlooked prospect turned NCAA Champion turned pro, but now Smith also has his sights set on other enterprises: The Russ Smith Foundation, a budding rap career, the bourbon industry, and Tinseltown to name a few.

Since being a second-round pick in the NBA draft in 2014, he has been playing basketball professionally all around the globe, even becoming NBL-China scoring champion in 2017 and 2019, so it’s safe to say there’s plenty of juice left untapped in that keg. But what many people don’t know about “Russdiculous” is that he has had bigger plans beyond the hardwood since he began his professional career.

Read the full story at Fansided.

De'Anthony Melton of the Memphis Grizzlies

De’Anthony Melton a diamond in the rough for Grizzlies bench

As it turns out, it takes more than one season to become an effective two-way player. The Memphis Grizzlies are seeing it firsthand with their diamond in the rough, De’Anthony Melton.

A quick look at the stat sheet wouldn’t tell you much about De’Anthony Melton, both for Sunday night’s game or the Memphis Grizzlies‘ season at large. He’s not a potent scorer, a lead playmaker or a 3-point marksman. In fact, he’s not even a starter, and just barely cracked his way into the rotation at the start of December.

Read the full story at Fansided.

De'Anthony Melton of the Memphis Grizzlies

De’Anthony Melton’s time is now

De’Anthony Melton has been one of the Memphis Grizzlies’ most impactful players this season. Since permanently joining the rotation on December 9th, the Grizzlies are 26-17, playing at the pace of a 50-win team (60.5 winning percentage). The Grizzlies are also 11.1 points better with Melton on the floor than off it, per Cleaning the Glass. They perform at the level of a 57-win team with him on the court, compared to a 29-win team without him.

Read the full story at

Ryan Arcidiacono of the Chicago Bulls

Thankful Arcidiacono Gives Back

“Any way I could give back… you have to understand you are more than just an athlete on the court.” -Arcidiacono

Ryan Arcidiacono is like one of those Stan Lee Marvel characters who defies the ordinary, and not just going from not being drafted to a guaranteed NBA contract. Call Arcidiacono Floor Burn, the relentless every man who never fails to bounce up and bounce back.

Which is a further reason why this unexpected postponement of the NBA season has been even more maddening.

Floor Burn hadn’t sat out multiple basketball games since he had to miss his senior high school season with herniated disc surgery. Since then Arcidiacono has dived for every loose ball, drawn every charge and crashed the metaphorical brick walls of competition through four years at Villanova, almost two in the G-league and another three with the Bulls.

Until late on March 4 in Minneapolis when Arcidiacono felt the dreaded twinge in his Achilles late in the game with the Timberwolves.

Read the full story at

De'Anthony Melton of the Memphis Grizzlies

The mysterious De’Anthony Melton

Coming into the season, and after the trade with Phoenix, true basketball savants knew De’Anthony Melton would be good. However, no one predicted that he’d be this productive this season. He’s in the 93rd or higher percentile in every defensive metric. Of any Grizzly duo that’s played 200 or more minutes, he’s in the top 5 with four different players. Per Cleaning the Glass, the team is a whopping 21 points better with him on the court than off.

Melton’s play has been an awesome development, and it’s quietly raising questions about if he should be a cornerstone going forward.

Read the full story at