Sixers: 3 players who have exceeded expectations at quarter-season mark

Sixers logo (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Sixers logo (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Sixers have won four of their last five games to advance to 12-9 on the young NBA season. After strolling leisurely out of the gates, Philadelphia quickly found its stride despite several potentially catastrophic injuries. Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey have all missed extended time. Meanwhile, Doc Rivers is perpetually under heavy scrutiny from the fandom. And yet, here we are — the Sixers look pretty damn good.

Why has Philly managed to be successful despite injuries? Well, the answer lies in the collective. The Sixers’ improved depth has lived up to the hype, with several players outperforming what were already high expectations entering the season.

These three players have stood out the most in that regard.

Sixers who have exceeded expectations: Shake Milton

Shake Milton entered the season on the rotational fringe. He was an afterthought — the 10th man in a nine-man rotation. And then the injuries struck, the floodgates opened, and Shake took full advantage. He has been the Sixers’ best player since Maxey went down, and at this point, one has to imagine he will have the chance to maintain a significant role the rest of the season.

In six games as starting point guard, Milton is averaging 23.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 6.7 assists on .571/.538/.955 shooting splits. Those efficiency numbers are bound to taper off eventually, but Milton’s unique blend of strength, patience, and shot-making prowess are on full display. He can straight-up bully his way to points against most traditional point guards. He’s also operating at the highest level of his career in the playmaking department, consistently leveraging his gravity as a driver to locate open teammates.

I didn’t think this version of Shake would ever appear. This is the Shake Milton fans once thought could contend for Sixth Man of the Year. His role could get more complicated once Harden and Maxey re-enter the fold, but the Sixers (and Shake) should work to keep the momentum going for as long as possible.