The Philadelphia 76ers did not come out of the gates firing on all cylinders this season.
They lost four of their first five games and did not get above .500 until their 15th game.
A downer update from "Not An Actual Doctor" Rivers on Tyrese Maxey today, who the head coach expects to miss a couple more weeks of action.
Here's a story on that and a refresher on the timeline/quotes on this injury: https://t.co/3ygFybpvYz
— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) December 15, 2022
But it has not all been bad.
The 76ers have had a few bright spots to start the year.
1. 76ers Defense Improving
While the offense is still rounding into form, the 76ers’ defense looks like it could be elite.
After a slow start to the year, Embiid and the supporting cast started to apply the clamps.
After allowing 110+ points five times in the first nine games, they put together a stretch of six straight games allowing under 110.
It highlighted a streak of 11 out of 12 games that saw the 76ers surrender fewer than 110 points.
Philly has six players that rank above the 80th percentile in Defensive Estimated Plus/Minus per Dunks and Threes.
The defense has slipped late but still has the fifth-best Defensive Rating in the NBA.
2. Melton Looks Like A Steal
Out of all the 76ers’ offseason acquisitions, De’Anthony Melton looks like he will have the most significant impact.
While P.J. Tucker has been effective defensively, he is still figuring out his role on the offensive end.
Danuel House Jr. has been a contributor when he plays, but his playing time has been sporadic to start the year.
Melton has fit in just fine on both ends.
The 24-year-old guard is averaging 11.9 points, 3.3 assists, and a career-best 2.2 steals per game.
He is shooting 42.6% from the field on a career-high 10.4 attempts per game and knocking down 39.4% of another career-high 5.9 threes per game.
Melton filled in well when Harden and Maxey were out, pestering players on the defensive end and knocking down open looks on offense.
De’Anthony Melton career highs
First NBA player to do this in at least 30 years and first Sixer ever to do it pic.twitter.com/U1xMFmVS9j
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) December 10, 2022
He has one of the best performances from a 76er not named Joel Embiid this year – 33 points on 11-16 shooting and 8-12 from three to go along with seven steals against the Lakers.
Morey seemingly acquired a great player for little cost over the offseason.