Why Shake Milton is vital to the Philadelphia 76ers’ success

The Philadelphia 76ers need a lot from Shake Milton this season.

The Philadelphia 76ers took their first win of the season against the Washington Wizards yesterday. This victory can be partially attributed to a great performance by Shake Milton. While it wasn’t necessarily a standout performance, Shake put up 19 points in 29 minutes. This was the most by a Sixer with the exception of Joel Embiid.

The team was simply better with Shake on the floor. Milton was +33 despite Philadelphia only winning by six. He was first off the bench and featured in the closing lineup and I believe he’ll continue to be given the same level of responsibility this season. In fact, many are even rallying  for him to be promoted to the starting lineup.

Through preseason and the season opener, Shake has looked like the third best player on the Sixers. Many would say the logical progression would be for him to step up into a starting role. I think Milton is better as a sixth man but I would support Rivers’ decision of playing him as either a starter or a sixth man.

Coming into the season, I believed that Milton would score the second most points per game on this Philadelphia roster and I still hold this belief.

Of course, Simmons is undoubtedly a better player than Shake however, he’s slightly limited when it comes to scoring. He doesn’t shoot from the outside, he’s a poor free throw shooter and often forces passes rather than looking to score or draw fouls when he is driving.

That’s not to say he’s terrible as a scorer, he’s still put up a decent 16.4 points per game throughout his career. However 16 points a game might not be enough from a secondary scoring option on a championship contender. His scoring also relies much more on transition offense rather than playing in the halfcourt.

It is very early in the season but Tobias Harris hasn’t looked good so far. We hope he can find his rhythm and prove himself to be worth even close to what he’s being paid. At this rate, however, I think Milton could outperform him throughout the season.

Curry and Green rely mostly on kickouts, handoffs and screen actions to generate their scoring. Their job offensively is spacing the floor more than it is generating or creating offense but I don’t think either of them are good enough to be relied upon to carry the offense if ever necessary.

This is why I think the secondary scoring duties will have to fall to Shake, or at the very least be shared equally with Ben. With the way Shake has played in the season opener and the preseason in conjunction with his performance in the latter part of last season, I’m confident that this could be a legitimate option.

Shake looks comfortable playing with both the starters and the bench players. He’s been playing well off Dwight Howard, using screens. He’s getting to the line using dribble drives and converting his free throws. He’s held his own on the defensive end and he looks comfortable handling the ball.

I would like to see him rack up just a couple more assists but otherwise Shake just needs to remain consistent and he could play his way into becoming a genuine contender for sixth man of the year.

I foresee a handful of standout games from Milton throughout the season similar to his 39-point stunner against the Los Angeles Clippers last season which should solidify his case for being a Sixth Man of the Year contender due to increased media attention. Alternatively, he could also contend for the Most Improved Player or maybe even both.

Either way I think Milton is one of the most important players on this team. If he continues playing the way he has been, he could be on his way to scoring more than any 76er but Joel and I think this should be a goal for him. A lot of the offense will be his responsibility but I think he’ll make the most of this opportunity.

I hope he continues to develop and helps Embiid carry the offensive load and he can be a part of the reason the Sixers make a deep playoff run. Especially if Harris doesn’t step up, this will be integral for the Sixers.