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De’Anthony Melton’s versatility and defensive spark have been invaluable for the Sixers

Melton's contributions have been key for a team that has struggled to stay healthy and stop opponents.

The Sixers' De'Anthony Melton drives against Atlanta Hawks guard Aaron Holiday during a game in Atlanta.
The Sixers' De'Anthony Melton drives against Atlanta Hawks guard Aaron Holiday during a game in Atlanta.Read moreHakim Wright Sr. / AP

De’Anthony Melton is focused on “doing me” despite playing various roles since joining the 76ers in a draft-day trade.

Acquired from the Memphis Grizzlies to provide three-and-D depth and occasional ballhandling off the bench, the 6-foot-2 Melton has started two games at small forward and three more at shooting guard because of injuries and illness.

» READ MORE: Sixers’ Joel Embiid played so many minutes in his 59-point performance out of necessity

The fifth-year veteran has proved to be the most versatile member of the roster through the first 14 games, and he has excelled in those roles for the most part.

“I’m just trying to show my game out there,” he said, “just being aggressive on both ends of the floor and provide for the team. Whatever it is, whoever’s out there, my game can translate to anybody on the court. So just kind of go out there and do me.”

Melton is averaging 8.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.58 steals in 24.4 minutes. The 24-year-old also ranks seventh in deflections per game (3.6) and 10th in total deflections (43).

In fact, Melton’s only lowlights came when he missed two games with back stiffness and fell into a recent three-game slump.

That slump came as the Sixers were introduced to life without James Harden, which meant greater expectations for Melton. In that time, he combined to make just 8 of 32 shots (25%), including going 5-for-20 on three-pointers, as the starting shooting guard against the New York Knicks (Nov. 4), Phoenix Suns (Nov. 7) and Atlanta Hawks (Thursday). Melton also committed a total of seven turnovers in those games.

However, he came off the bench on Sunday against the Utah Jazz and responded with six points on 3-for-5 shooting, along with six rebounds, two assists, and just one turnover in the 105-98 victory. Coach Doc Rivers said the move was made to provide more ballhandling off the bench, but Melton looked more relaxed playing on the second unit alongside reserve guard Shake Milton.

Melton downplayed the two games he missed, saying the back stiffness is something he experienced earlier in his career. “It’s just something I have to work with,” the fifth-year veteran said.

» READ MORE: Sixers’ Joel Embiid named NBA Eastern Conference player of the week

Despite that, he has been the Sixers’ most productive offseason acquisition, and a perfect fit for the team. Melton is enjoying what has been a learning process with his new team.

He was thrown into the fire when several players were forced to sit out, including Harden, who has missed the last four games with a strained tendon in his right foot that will keep him sidelined for a month. Joel Embiid missed three games with the flu and another to rest his right knee. Danuel House Jr. also missed two games with the flu. And Matisse Thybulle, who started the last two games, has gone from averaging 1.7 minutes to having a key role on the team.

All that has led to varying roles for Melton.

“I think that’s just a given with all our lineups, it’s something that somebody has to figure out,” he said of his role. “So, I mean, it’s still early in the season. I understand this type of stuff matters late in the year.”

By that point, the Sixers, winners of their last four games, hope to be Eastern Conference contenders.

“So we’ve got to keep working,” Melton said. “And the biggest thing is just keep getting better as a team. So I’m not too worried about other stuff.”