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Why De’Anthony Melton Is a Good Addition for Warriors After Losing Klay Thompson – NBC Sports Bay Area & California

Why De’Anthony Melton Is a Good Addition for Warriors After Losing Klay Thompson – NBC Sports Bay Area & California

With Klay Thompson moving on to another team, the Warriors realized they had to replace a lot of the elements he provided. Or rather, what made him almost the perfect backup for Stephen Curry.

Golden State’s priority was to add an offensive defender who could fill one of the roles Thompson played before he tore the ACL in one leg and ruptured the Achilles tendon in the other.

Thompson’s defense in his prime gave Curry the freedom that led to his back-to-back MVP awards. The Warriors want and need that freedom back.

Free agent goalie De’Anthony Milton has come in. He’s not a flashy player and won’t be as good as Klay, but his defense is elite. That makes it worth the $12.9 million tax-free mid-level deal the two sides agreed to Monday.

Milton, 26, is that rare young player who is effective but has mostly stayed out of the spotlight, in part because he has played for three different teams.

The Warriors, like the rest of the NBA and those who live and breathe the league, understand his value as one of the league’s best perimeter defenders.

Milton, like former Golden State star Andre Iguodala, is one of those players who rarely produces impressive statistics but often produces good results. He’s shooting 36.9 percent from distance over his six-year career. He’s also a great defender — both on and off the ball — and he gets more assists, rebounds and passes than he does assists.

At 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-8, Milton’s physical dimensions are nearly identical to those of Gary Payton II, a Warriors favorite who has struggled with injuries in each of the past two seasons.

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Milton has also struggled with injuries, most recently back problems that limited him to just 38 games (33 starts) with the Philadelphia 76ers last season.

Before being dropped from the starting lineup last season, Milton was part of a Philadelphia starting lineup — along with Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Nic Batum and Tyrese Maxey — that had the best net rating (plus-34.0) in the NBA.

The Sixers had a 21-9 record with Milton in the starting lineup before his back injury sidelined him, and they had a 26-26 record over the last 52 games without Embiid and Milton.

Milton thrived as the sixth man on the 2021-22 Memphis Grizzlies, who finished second in the Western Conference. He averaged 10.8 points per game (40.4 from the field, but 37.4 from deep), along with 4.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.4 steals.

The key to Milton’s success is his health. Had he stayed healthy last season, he could have earned an annual salary of more than $20 million.

Although the Warriors are off the luxury tax and still in the process of assembling their roster, Milton is considered a candidate to be in the starting lineup.

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