Philadelphia 76ers: Identifying Shake Milton’s long-term role

(Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

Shake Milton has been a revelation over the last three games, but what will the 23-year-old’s role look like when the Philadelphia 76ers return to full strength?

Shake Milton‘s midseason transformation from deep bench reserve to potential season savior is virtually unprecedented in modern Philadelphia 76ers history.

After being informed that he’d be out of Brett Brown‘s rotation after the All-Star break, Milton took advantage of playing time freed up by a back injury to Ben Simmons and ran with it. We’re talking four straight starts with 21.25 points per game, all the while tying the NBA record for most consecutive 3 pointers made at 13.

Milton Mania has hit so hard that Shake himself was a guest on Monday’s edition of The Jump, where he dished on everything from playing two games in one day, to the origins of his creative nickname. Watch it here, it’s great.

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Truly Milton’s explosive string of double-digit performances has been a welcomed distraction from the doldrums of a string of games without Simmons and Joel Embiid, but realistically it can’t last forever. No, as sobering as it may be, Milton may not score 39 points again this season. Heck, he may not even score 39 points over a week depending on how things ‘shake out’, it’s really anyone’s guess.

So once things return to normal, if that day ever comes, what does Milton’s ceiling look like with the Philadelphia 76ers?

Well first and foremost, the obvious: Shake Milton is not a full-time NBA point guard. He’s just not. He was really bad as the Sixers’ lead guard in the Summer League, has only averaged 3.9 assists a game at SMU and has often been tasked with sharing the ball-handling duties with Xavier Munford when playing with the Delaware Blue Coats this season.

While the team could opt to utilize the 23-year-old as an oversized backup point guard a la Alec Burks, Milton is best-suited long-term as an off-ball shooting guard with an ability to pick up the slack as a secondary playmaker – think Landry Shamet mixed with Josh Richardson.

Milton also projects as a good outside shooter. Not elite, but good. In college, Milton knocked down an average of 42.7 percent of his 5.1 3 point attempts a game as SMU’s top scorer. In the G-League, Milton is has hit 38.4 percent of his 3 point attempts on 5.8 shots a game. Through 48 NBA games, Milton has hit 41.7 percent of his 190 attempts, a number that will probably go down with a larger sample size but should remain far above league average.

Boy, between his ability to impact the game as a hand son scorer, and his ability to perch on the wings and knock down an open 3, Milton is the ideal player to slot in next to Simmons in an off-ball guard, as he can impact a game regardless of usage rate.

Think about that for a second; the 76ers could close out the season with a three-guard lineup featuring a trio of quality ball handlers – a far cry from the huge ‘monstar-ting’ five that took on the Boston Celtics on opening night.

Ball movement. Think about the ball movement.

Next. Tobias Harris can’t steal a win against the LA Clippers. dark

Shake Milton probably isn’t an NBA superstar. He probably won’t ever demand a max contract, or even make an All-Star game, but right now, there isn’t a hotter player on the Philadelphia 76ers roster than Shake Milton. Despite making $26.5 million less than Al Horford this season, Milton 100 percent deserves to start the final 21 games of the season and continue to stake his claim to be the team’s fifth starter in 2020-21.