Which five bench players should the Sixers use?

De'Anthony Melton, Georges Niang, Joel Embiid, Sixers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
De'Anthony Melton, Georges Niang, Joel Embiid, Sixers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Shake Milton, the second unit creator

Shake Milton entered last season with his back against the wall. It felt like he was slipping out of the rotation and potentially out of the NBA at large. Then he found another gear, mounting a strong fourth season that culminated with an impressive and illuminating performance in the playoffs. Milton is one of the precious few Sixers who showed up to the Miami series. He fought for his spot in the rotation and earned it on the biggest stage.

The Sixers’ second unit is brimming with shooting and defensive talent. All three of Melton, House, and Niang are above-average shooters, while the first two are genuine high-level defenders. What’s missing is a creative spark — the kind of player who can free style when needed. Milton is not the best iso scorer in the world, but he’s a strong and physical guard who can muscle his way to points. He takes and makes tough shots that no one else in the second unit (and only a couple players in the starting five) are comfortable taking.

Milton is one of the few Sixers who can create from scratch when the offense breaks down. He needs to get better as a facilitator still, and it would be great if he could improve his efficiency and volume from 3-point range, but Milton’s off-the-dribble repertoire is enough to earn him every-night burn. Thybulle is the primary challenger for these minutes, but the Sixers have good defenders elsewhere. Milton’s proclivity for making something out of nothing is far more necessary in context of the other rotation pieces.

He’s no slouch defensively either. Milton’s limited lateral quickness makes him more of a wing defender than a guard defender, but with Melton spearheading the second unit Milton should seldom feel out of position (we are also betting the over for how many times someone mistypes Melton instead of Milton or vice versa this season). Shake’s size and strength at 6-foot-6 makes him a natural deterrent for those hoping to worm their way to the rim.