The Philadelphia 76ers and the Memphis Grizzlies battled it out on Friday night for the first time this season. Being on the road in Memphis, the game served as a reunion for a member of the Sixers.
Over the summer, Philadelphia went on the clock with the 23rd overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Instead of using their lone selection, the Sixers moved the pick to the Memphis Grizzlies along with the veteran sharpshooter Danny Green to land Melton.
Melton had spent the last three seasons playing for the Grizzlies after starting his career with the Phoenix Suns. The young veteran appeared in 185 games for the Grizzlies, averaging 21 minutes off the bench. Over the course of three seasons, Melton established himself as a two-way standout, which is precisely what the Sixers were on the hunt for after a second-round exit in the playoffs.
Following his first game back in Memphis, Melton’s former superstar teammate Ja Morant reacted to facing the Sixers guard for the first time since they split.
“That’s my guy,” Morant told reporters. “Obviously, we’re on opposite sides now. Inside those four lines, you pretty much can’t have friends, so I just got to come in, do my job, and win a game.” (via Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire)
Melton’s return to Memphis didn’t go the way he planned. As the Sixers remain shorthanded without James Harden and Tyrese Maxey in the mix, Melton started for the ninth consecutive game. The veteran guard checked in for 34 minutes on Friday, putting up 13 points while coming down with six rebounds and producing four assists.
While Melton and the Sixers put up a good fight after losing control of the game in the second and third quarters, Memphis put Philly away with an eight-point victory, spoiling the guard’s return. Melton will get a chance at revenge on February 23 when the Grizzlies pay a visit to the Sixers in South Philly.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.