Philadelphia 76ers: Get well soon, Shake Milton

The Philadelphia 76ers‘ offense is… unique.

It currently ranks 30th overall in pace, but second in offensive rating. They have blowout wins versus the New Orleans Pelicans and the OKC Thunder, a blowout loss to the New York Knicks, and a heartbreaking loss to the Brooklyn Nets that gave many a fan flashbacks to a certain series against the Atlanta Hawks earlier this year.

At times, the Sixers look like a team with a deep enough bench to remain competitive sans Ben Simmons – or whichever players Daryl Morey could get back via trade – while at other times the team looks rudderless, with a laborious offensive identity that makes life a whole lot harder for Joel Embiid than it needs to be due to their lack of viable distributors.

Well fear not Philly fans, for I have good news: The Philadelphia 76ers will be getting one of their point guards back in the not too distant future; one with a 39 point game on his resume, no less.

Shake Milton can’t take the court for the Philadelphia 76ers fast enough.

Shake Milton isn’t for everyone.

He’s a sparkplug scorer who can put up points in a hurry but an inefficient one who hit shots well below the league average in 2020-21.

In one game, Milton will log less than a minute of action without much outrage from the fanbase. And in the next? Well, Milton will transform into a playoff hero, a near-point-per-minute scorer single-handedly securing a tick in the win column.

If Milton wants to have a long and fruitful career, he should probably shore that up, as few teams are looking for a guard who swings so violently between extremes, but right now, I don’t think the Philadelphia 76ers will mind getting the player he is now back.

Why? Because they are pretty darn desperate for guards who can both take their own shot and facilitate a few for his teammates.

Is Shake Milton a particularly good passer? No. Milton has never recorded 10 assists in any of his 139 professional games, and he rarely makes a pass worthy of note. Milton also took a notable step back as a 3 point shooter in 2020-21, where he was one of the least efficient shooters in the league who attempted at least 200 3-pointers on the season.

But what Milton can do, and do better than pretty much any other player on the roster – as unfortunate as that may be – is take the ball at the top of the key, size up a defender, and break them down on his way to a bucket.

Whether starting alongside Seth Curry, Danny Green and the rest of the guys, or coming off the bench in relief of Tyrese Maxey, Milton provides the Sixers with a desperately needed ball handler capable of getting the offense into its sets and a viable change-of-pace bomber to potentially squelch game-changing runs by the opposing team.

Milton’s return will also graciously allow Furkan Korkmaz to play off the ball far more often than he has in the past few games, which is a pretty massive upgrade in its own right.

As fun as Korkmaz has been to watch on the ball, “Point Furkan” is a lot like a fire, it can keep a building warm if controlled but is capable of easily burning the whole thing down if things go south. In an off-ball role, Korkmaz’s ability to drive to the basket and execute a pass is an asset, whereas his indecisiveness and goofy shot selection become far more of a liability with increased use.

Throw that all together, and you have a notable upgrade that this roster has been desperately needing after suffering an ugly loss at The Garden.

Make no mistake about it, Shake Milton isn’t a magic pill who can singlehandedly fix the issues of Doc Rivers‘ squad. He likely won’t be the team’s long-term closer, will struggle defensively in a backcourt with Seth Curry, and likely won’t unlock Joel Embiid’s offense under the basket, as evidenced by the 2020 NBA Bubble playoffs. But for a team like the Philadelphia 76ers, who played four straight games with only one point guard, his return is highly anticipated.