One of the great things about being a fan of the NBA is that there are very few points of inactivity on the NBA calendar. The NBA Finals concluded just five days ago and right on its heels is the NBA Draft, which takes place Thursday evening. Then before fans can catch their breath, the two summer leagues will tip off: Utah & Sacramento from July 1st to 3rd and Las Vegas from July 5th to 15th.
The Sixers have nearly a half dozen picks in the 2019 Draft, and while I don’t expect them to use all of those, Elton Brand will indeed be welcoming new members to the organization, which means new prospects to tune into the summer league to watch. But Philly’s summer league roster won’t host only new faces: Elton Brand announced to the media today that Shake Milton will be playing in the Las Vegas Summer, according to the Athletic’s Derek Bodner:
“I haven’t seen a player so excited to play in summer league.”
Elton Brand says Shake Milton will play in Vegas.
This is both exciting and not at all shocking. Though Milton has a year of professional experience with 20 games played to his name, he’s essentially still a prospect who the Sixers are looking to develop into a legitimate NBA player. It makes sense to see how Shake compares to the new crop of prospects as well as simply getting him some extra competition.
Milton, the 54th overall selection in the 2018 Draft who the Sixers traded the rights to picks 56 (Ray Spalding) and 60 (Kostas Antetokounmpo) for, spent much of his rookie campaign with Sixers’ G-League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats. While there, Shake stood out from the competition, averaging 24.9 points on 48.4% from the field and 36.7% from three (5.9 3PA) with 4.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 34.7 minutes per game. Yes, it is the G-League, but those numbers are impressive!
With the NBA squad in 2018-2019, Milton was much less impressive but saw limited playing time. So Milton has a lot to prove, but along with his G-League performances, consider the following (which I’m sure you’ve heard before but it’s worth reiterating):
- The Sixers traded for Shake — their investment shows they believe they can tap into his skill set.
- Shake significantly improved his year-to-year free throw percentage with increased volume to get to 84.7% on 5.0 FTA per game by the end of his final season at SMU and shot over 42% from deep in all three of his collegiate seasons.
- Shake was widely viewed as a late-first round talent in a stacked draft and fell to the late-second likely as a result of a poor combine showing due to injuring his back before the event.
That should be enough to get any Sixers fan excited about watching Milton in this year’s summer league. If he shows up and dominates, it will get everyone feeling a bit better about the Sixers’ ability to fill out their rotation should they #RunItBack. And if he laces up and shoots 24% from the floor while getting outclassed by wet-behind-the-ears rookies? Hey, it’s only summer league!