De’Anthony Melton is Making the Most of His NBA Opportunity

by Cody Cunningham

The Phoenix Suns traded for De’Anthony Melton from the Houston Rockets back in August and on Tuesday night the rookie showed Suns fans what he’s capable of when he checks into the game.

After a rough first quarter for the Suns, Melton entered the game during the second quarter and quickly began to impress. By halftime, he had already notched a career-high in points and looked to be giving it his all on both ends of the court.

“Obviously, we started the game kind of slow,” Melton said. “I really wanted to go out there, give my energy and whatever happens, happens. Never played for stats, I just play to win the game, so whatever happens, it was good for me.” 

Although the Suns weren’t able to pull out a victory, Melton’s breakout performance definitely stood out to his teammates.

“De’Anthony really showed out that he can play,” Deandre Ayton said. “On both ends on the floor, he showed a lot of effort and really tried to get us back in the game.”

Melton finished the game with 21 points on a highly efficient 75 percent shooting while knocking down three of his four shots from deep. He also tallied five assists, two rebounds and a steal in a career-high 23 minutes of action.

“I have confidence in my game,” Melton said. “As I get better and the more I work on it, the more and more confident, so I was just shooting the open shot and my teammates were really there for me to encourage me and teach me.”

One of the best ways to gain confidence is through reps and the Suns have put a focus on having Melton get game time experience with their G-League affiliate Northern Arizona Suns and it seems to be paying off. 

“The more reps you get, the more you can polish your game and figure out who you are as a player and a person,” Melton said. “I think that’s what the G-League kind of did for me. I would go down there and just play a lot of minutes and just focus.”

In five games this season up in Prescott, Melton is averaging 17 points, 7 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.2 steals. NAZ Head Coach Bret Burchard runs the same system up North as the team does in the Valley, allowing Melton to learn the plays and adjust to the next level more smoothly.

“Up there, he really trusts us with the ball in our hands,” Melton said. “Just working on reads. It’s not much different from the G-League to here. System’s the same. In terms of just like mentally finding other open guys, finding the right person.”

Although his minutes have fluctuated throughout the first few months of his NBA career, Melton credits his veterans for helping keep him mentally prepared for when his number is called.

“They say it’s a long season,” Melton said. “You’ve always got to be ready. You never know when your time is going to be called and you’ve got to step up to the occasion every time.”

Head Coach Igor Kokoškov hasn’t ruled out the possibility of Melton taking hold of the starting point guard position going forward.

“We have two rookies [competiting for the job],” Kokoškov said. “We’re going to award the guys playing hard, playing well.” 

While Kokoškov wouldn’t quite reveal his cards as to who his starter is, it’s clear that Melton will be seeing more minutes on the court going forward this season.

Melton and the Suns travel to Portland to face the Trail Blazers on Thursday night. Be sure to catch the action on Fox Sports Arizona.