De’Anthony Melton Addresses ‘Sensitive Subject’ with Sixers Stopper

De'Anthony Melton

Getty New Sixers guard De'Anthony Melton was acquired from Memphis in a draft-day trade in 2022.

De’Anthony Melton bears a bit of a grudge toward Matisse Thybulle, his new teammate on the Philadelphia 76ers. Don’t worry, it’s a friendly one. The two players aren’t in any imminent danger of coming to blows.

However, it is the uncomfortable elephant in the room stemming from a college slight. You see, Thybulle beat Melton out for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2018. Some might even say that Thybulle “stole” that award. Yes, it still stings.

“I think that’s still a sensitive subject,” Melton said at Sixers Media Day. “But I’ve had several conversations with him about that. I’m going to keep bringing it up until they figure it out or change something.”

Thybulle, a two-time All-Defense selection, was standing in the back smiling during Melton’s press conference. Next question! And that next query, a serious one, was about how exciting it was for Thybulle and Melton to be teammates. They could be the deadliest, most dominant defensive duo in the league.

“I think given his ability and what he can do, especially at his size and pretty much able to defend 1 through 5, I think it’s special,” Melton said of Thybulle. “Because I think I can go out there and do very similar things, you know, and just raise havoc out there. Give offenses trouble and not only just stopping them but getting them into their offense, tiring them down, so when the fourth quarter comes around they’re a little more gassed because me and Matisse are out there running around getting steals, staying out of foul trouble hopefully. But I think us two out there is definitely going to be havoc.”

Just to drive the point home, Thybulle shouted one final comment: “You better be excited, man!”

Melton ‘Super Excited’ Following Unexpected Trade

The draft-day trade that sent Melton to Philadelphia from Memphis was rather unexpected at the time. The 24-year-old guard had enjoyed a career year for the Grizzlies, logging big-time minutes (22.7 per game) as Ja Morant’s backup. Not many people saw him switching sides. Looking back on everything now, Melton should have seen it coming.

“I think once it happened, hearing the chatter and stuff, given the background, Daryl [Morey], he drafted me originally,” Melton said. “So I think with the situation, once I found out where I was going, what was happening, and after talking with everybody over there … I think I was just super excited and super ready to get to it with the Sixers organization. So I think, you know, them bringing me here is something both sides is happy with it and I think it’s a win-win on both sides.”

Morey — the Sixers’ savvy president of basketball operations — drafted Melton with the 46th overall pick in 2018. He was running the Houston Rockets at the time. Then, Morey traded Melton to the Phoenix Suns in a salary dump with Ryan Anderson.

Making Impact in ‘Every Which Way Possible’

Melton is a complete player on both ends of the floor. He’s another “tough guy” committed to the grit and the grind. That was the blueprint the Sixers laid out in the offseason and Melton fits it. He’s ready to get down and dirty this season.

“Given my play style and what the team brought me here to do, is just to impact the game every which way possible,” Melton said. “So that’s offensively, defensively … that could getting a loose ball, rebounding, guarding somebody, so I think I’ll be able to fit in perfectly with them. Because I think everybody understands what we’re trying to do, and we got to do it as a team.”

What they are trying to do is win a championship. And they plan to get there by any means necessary.

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