Is Shake Milton destined to be Doc Rivers’ next great sixth man?

Philadelphia 76ers
LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 01: Philadelphia 76ers Guard Shake Milton (18) looks on during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Clippers on March 1, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

Doc Rivers seems confident that Shake Milton can take the next step in 2021.

One of the most heartwarming stories of the 2019-20 NBA season, Shake Milton and his emergence onto the national spotlight was simply a joy to watch. From G-League superstar to dropping 39 points against Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, it was very much a storyline that Sixers fans were quick to embrace.

Even if we forget about that iconic outing against LAC, Milton still had an extremely productive second season in the NBA. He ended the year averaging 9.4 points per game on 48.4% shooting, and ultimately earned himself a starting job in the “bubble.” Despite the team’s woeful postseason performance against Boston, Milton still finished that series averaging 14.5 while shooting 40% from beyond the arc. A definitive bright spot amongst the 4-0 “sweep.”

With all his previous success taken into account, it seems like newly hired head coach Doc Rivers has even higher expectations for the young guard.

Rivers highlighted Milton specifically during his media session this past week, pointing to him as a player who he specifically has been thinking about this offseason: “Right when I took the job, Shake was where my focus has been.”

Rivers has a history of successfully developing and utilizing “sixth men”, with guys like Jamal Crawford, Lou Williams, and Montrezl Harrell all highlighting that list. Crawford and Williams were specifically great, as both would routinely destroy opposing defenses coming off the bench.

While you could easily make the argument that Milton should slot in as one of the Sixers starting guards alongside Ben Simmons, Rivers seems to envision Milton as his next great sixth man investment. Shake clearly has the natural offensive talent to create and score points, and his ability to handle the basketball fits what the team needs coming off the bench.

Doc Rivers also mentioned that he’s going to hold Milton more accountable for his defense capabilities (unlike Crawford and Williams), which is something that Milton should thrive at considering his athleticism and freakishly long wingspan.

We won’t know what Milton’s role will be until Opening Night, but ultimately speaking every sign is pointing towards the young guard getting even further responsibility moving forward. Rivers’ early commitment to him is a fantastic sign, and it’s possible that Shake finishes 2021 as one of the NBA’s better “sixth men.”

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire