Just over eight months ago, I wrote up a piece highlighting some “way too early Sixers team awards”. I had the usual ones, Embiid for team MVP, Simmons for best defender, etc. However, towards the end of the article I included a “deserves more minutes” award, and I handed it to then G-League standout Shake Milton.
Almost an entire year later, and I feel like a proud dad. During a Zoom call with the Philadelphia media, Joel Embiid revealed that Milton had been operating as the team’s starting point guard during practice. Not only did Milton get those minutes that he definitively deserved, but now he’s looking at getting full-on starter minutes.
If you followed the Sixers prior to the NBA’s COVID-19 related hiatus, you should be quite familiar with just how good Shake Milton was down the stretch. Thrusted into a starting role due to Simmons’ back injury, Shake seized the opportunity in front of him and ran with it. During the final nine games before the shutdown, Milton averaged 17.8 PPG while shooting over 60% from beyond the arc. This stretch included an iconic 39 point performance against Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers.
While most NBA fans weren’t familiar with Milton heading into the 2019-20 season, he is genuinely the perfect fit for what the Sixers need in their starting five. Not only is he an excellent shooter, but he is a fantastic ball handler and distributor. He was the starting PG for the Delaware Blue Coats (Sixers G-League team) in 2018, and he absolutely thrived in that role.
On top of that, Milton is 6-6 with a 7-foot wingspan. The Sixers have long sacrificed defense for shooting in the past (JJ Redick for example), but that doesn’t need to be the case with Shake. At that size and length, Milton will be more than serviceable in defending opposing team’s guards. It also looks like Milton has added some proper muscle when looking at recent pictures…
With Milton expected to take over starting point guard duties down in Orlando, this means Ben Simmons will likely operate as a slashing forward while Al Horford hits the bench. Both are moves that Sixers fans have been clamoring for for a very long time.
It seems a bit silly at times, but Milton could genuinely be the missing piece that the Sixers have needed all this time. It wasn’t too long ago that the Philly front office used the number one overall pick on a versatile guard who was supposed to pair up next to Simmons. While Milton wasn’t a #1 overall pick or even a first round pick for that matter, he definitely possesses those similar traits to finally complete the “process” in Philadelphia.
Mandatory Credit – © Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports