Do not fall under the spell of leader Shake Milton anymore

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On the Philadelphia 76ers’ pre-season maiden voyage, Doc Rivers gave people what they wanted: Tyrese Maxey for the point guard.

* spoiler alert * It went wrong.

Now granted, that wasn’t all about Maxey. The 3 Big 3s of Joel Embiid’s squad, Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons (duh) were all up for the game, as was Charles Bassey, but the second-year point guard didn’t quite get past his predicament and performed a fantastic performance. against Scottie Barnes and company.

In the preseason home opener, the first in the Kate Scott era, Rivers tried something different against the same opponent, giving Shake Milton the go-ahead. This time around things went a lot better both on the pitch and on the scoreboard, but considering the squad was complete without Simmons, that wasn’t SMU’s pride either.

Do the Sixers have a true blue point guard in the vein of Chris Paul? No. Do they have a pair of viable young players worthy of competing for a place in the starting five? Yes, and Rivers is would have will let them face off in a good old-fashioned Philly point guard competition.

* sigh * How many times will the Philadelphia 76ers try the “Shake Milton at the point guard” experience before they realize it just doesn’t work?

The Philadelphia 76ers can’t always count on point guard Shake Milton.

The Philadelphia 76ers roster is complete.

They have 15 players with guaranteed contracts, two more with two-way contracts and an intriguing 18th man in Shaquille Harrison, who likely won’t be on the squad but is a fun player to have in the Sixers’ handout at the future.

Why, you will ask me, is this particularly relevant to the topic at hand? Well, due to the Sixers roster situation, they can’t take on more players via trade than they give up and instead would have to make the corresponding moves to accommodate a bigger package if it does show up.

For many fans of the best of Philly, the most logical player to ship out of town in such a move has been Shake Milton.

On paper, this makes sense. Despite averaging 13 points in 23.2 minutes of action per night, Milton’s season has been incredibly hot and cold, and he ultimately fell out of Doc Rivers’ playoff rotation. With Milton still coming onto the field every now and then and even putting in a signing performance against the Atlanta Hawks, his future with the team was limited at best, even though his incredibly friendly contract runs until 2022- 2023.

So naturally, when Rivers says Milton had an indoor track to start with Tyrese Maxey, it got many Philadelphia 76ers fans thinking.

Why? I mean, did you watch the 2020 Sixers playoffs?

To Milton’s credit, there are a lot of things he does well. He’s a certified scorer with an ability to attack the hoop from anywhere, a talented spark plug that comes off the bench, and, at 6ft 5in, 205lbs, has the size to be a switchable defender 1- 3.

That being said, Milton just isn’t a good primary offensive facilitator. Over the past three seasons, Milton has averaged just 2.6 assists per game against 1.3 turnovers. While this isn’t necessarily bad for a player with an average use rate of 22, it’s nowhere near what you’d like to see from a goalie tasked with getting others into the offense as well.

Regardless of the stats for a moment, Milton just isn’t a very sophisticated passer. He rarely places the ball in an advantageous position, especially for Joel Embiid in the paint, and lacks the definitive enthusiasm to run plays with confidence as the team’s primary host.

Mind you, that doesn’t mean Milton still couldn’t be useful in a larger role on the ball. Even though his 3-point shooting efficiency is incredibly volatile, Milton is still one of the few players on the squad who can set up a one-on-one defender and get his own shot.

That being said, is that really what a team wants in their playmaker, an iso player who is looking to score a lot more often than flat? Mind you, Tyrese Maxey’s game isn’t that far along, as he’s also averaged fewer assists than Tobias Harris in 2020-21, but he’s at least trying to get his teammates involved on the attacking side of the field, even though this is largely due to his still developing attacking game.

Ideally, Tyrese Maxey and Shake Milton would benefit greatly from playing with a confirmed backcourt pro who can continue their development as passers. Such a player would be able to play either one, take on the primary ball handling tasks in clutch situations, and provide the kind of 3 and D ground spacing capabilities that make this last the favorite of Doc Rivers to start moving forward. But if this player doesn’t eventually materialize anytime soon, I’d rather continue with Maxey, because he’s at least trying to get his teammates involved. Better to keep Milton in a sixth man role than to cut back on the positive steps he made in 2020-21.



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