Milton won’t play in this year’s Summer League action, having recently been diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back, suffered during the pre-draft process. According to a news release from NBA.com, he’ll be re-evaluated in three weeks. Still, assuming his rehab program progresses swimmingly, Milton should have more than enough time to prove his worth in training camp and potentially carve out a spot in the rotation.
At 6 feet 6 inches with a 7-foot wingspan, Milton has the size to play both guard positions and perhaps on the wing in a pinch. During his final year at SMU, he averaged 18.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.4 steals on .449/.434/.847 shooting splits. His outside shot appears entirely translatable, as he connected on 43.1 percent (44 of 102) of his threes from NBA range last season.
My early prediction is that Milton has a bigger place in the rotation than Shamet next season. Near-equal value as a spot-up shooter, more versatile defender and probably a slightly better passer. Looks comfortable shooting from NBA range: pic.twitter.com/0hMT7d4MdH— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) June 28, 2018
Along with the Sixers’ other rookie from the American Athletic Conference, Wichita State’s Landry Shamet, Milton brings an elite shooting stroke to Philadelphia. He ranked in the 98th percentile in spot-up shooting last season, netting 1.34 points per possession on such plays, per Synergy. What’s also encouraging from Milton is his penchant for attacking closeouts and fluid off-the-bounce game. While he isn’t going to beat many defenders off the dribble, Milton’s lanky frame enables him to comfortably shoot over the top of defenders when given the opportunity.
Oh, this was beautiful from Milton. Attacks the closeout and rises for a smooth pull-up jumper. Has no issue taking shots off the dribble. pic.twitter.com/QgQcRgYGAh— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) June 30, 2018
There is more to Milton than just scoring, though, as he tallied an assist-to-turnover ratio of slightly below 2:1 at 4.4:2.3. He’s a skilled passer who can make high-level reads on the move, but also has a tendency to force the issue at times, provoking some worries about his decision-making as a lead guard.
Poor decision to try and thread the ball between two defenders here. Upside is virtually nonexistent while the likely outcome is a 2-on-1 fastbreak for USC. Turns it over and leads to an easy bucket for the Trojans. Would have preferred he fake the bounce pass and go high. pic.twitter.com/9sPoiGOquQ— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) June 28, 2018
Defensively, Milton moves his feet well and has the length to overwhelm ball handlers, even if he doesn’t boast elite quickness or athleticism. Like most prospects, his off-ball discipline ebbs and flows, though Brett Brown is exactly the type of coach to alleviate many of those issues. He won’t be a lockdown defender at any point in his career, but he also isn’t the type of guy to get played off the court because of any defensive shortcomings, especially given his positional versatility.
SMU's zone makes it hard to analyze Milton's individual defense very often, but this was a nice sequence. Good closeout, moves his feet well, uses his length to force the ball handler back to the perimeter: pic.twitter.com/tvDrEbx4qO— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) June 29, 2018
Barring a clean bill of health, Milton owns the skill set to play a noteworthy role next season, potentially even ahead of Shamet, who lacks the same length and defensive chops while offering roughly the same value on offense. Many draft analysts had Milton pegged as a first-round talent and had he been nabbed with the 26th pick and Shamet the 54th, it wouldn’t have been all that surprising.
There is a legitimate path to playing time for Milton next year, given his size, length, and shooting. With Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid both dominating the ball, the ideal path to maximizing the offense is flanking them with a throng of snipers around the perimeter. Milton fits that description.
Again, just like Shamet, 500-plus words on Milton doesn’t do his game or potential fit justice. For an in-depth look into what he can offer, check out my Twitter Moment, in which I assessed Milton’s performance during SMU’s games against USC, Wichita State and Boise State last season.