Philadelphia 76ers: Shake Milton shines in his Summer League debut

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /
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In the Philadelphia 76ers’ first (Summer League) game of the post-T.J. McConnell-era, Shake Milton showcased why he could be the team’s backup point guard of the future.

When news broke that T.J. McConnell had officially moved on from the Philadelphia 76ers to join the Indiana Pacers on a two-year, $7 million deal, it left many fans in the 215 with a bittersweet taste in their mouths (more on that here).

But in his first game since signing a four-year, $7 million rookie deal, Shake Milton quickly validated Elton Brand‘s confidence with a rock solid performance as the Summer League Sixers’ starting point guard.

Now sure, it shouldn’t be too surprising that a player who has appeared in 20 NBA games would have an advantage over some of the Milwaukee Bucks‘ greener players, but in his Summer League debut, Milton showcased an ability to run the show as an on-ball guard role in a way he was seldom asked to do since he played point for Tim Jankovich back at SMU.

Was it always pretty? Nope, Milton shot 2-14 from the field and had a few ugly turnovers, but despite all of that, he still found a way to score 15 points and dish out seven assists while leading his club to a 107-106 win.

Furthermore, Milton showcased a surprising ability to drive to the basket and remain engaged as a playmaker, dishing out assists all over the court, including a brutal dunk by his 2018-19 Delaware Blue Coats teammate Norvel Pelle.

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Again, it’s just the Summer League, but that dunk was awesome.

So now that he’s showcased an ability to play on the ball as a lead guard and get buckets for both himself and his teammates, what can Milton do to further showcase his abilities and take a step towards winning the Sixers’ backup point guard position behind Ben Simmons?

Easy: Knock down some 3s.

Despite hitting 58-157 3 point attempts for the Blue Coats in 27 starts (36.9 percent), Milton only hit 14 of his 44 attempts with the 76ers (31.8 percent) in 268 minutes of action.

While Milton doesn’t have to come in as a rookie (sophomore? Two-way contracts are confusing) and knock down 3s as a direct replacement for J.J. Redick, the team at least expects him to be an offensive upgrade over T.J. McConnell, who actually took two fewer 3 pointers than Shake despite playing 1,202 more minutes over the course of the regular season.

If Milton can continue to perform at a high level, and ride that momentum into training camp, it’s entirely possible he could leapfrog recently signed Raul Neto, five years his senior, to become the Sixers’ fulltime backup point guard.

Next. T.J. McConnell was a homegrown hero. dark

With a three-guard starting five of Milton, Zhaire Smith, and Matisse Thybulle in place, this team could seriously challenge for a Summer League championship; a welcomed surprise for Philadelphia 76ers fans worried that the team had squandered their high-upside prospects in the pursuit of a veteran-focused championship roster.