Shake Milton Showed Promise After Stepping in for Richardson vs. Raptors
January 11th was the last time Philadelphia 76ers reserve shooting guard, Shake Milton, stepped foot on the court. The second-year, second-round pick earned three minutes of garbage time in a loss against the Dallas Mavericks.
Before that? Milton only managed to play in eleven games for the Sixers. Sometimes, he would be offered somewhere around ten minutes due to an injury elsewhere on the roster. Other times, his minutes came late during a blowout.
On Wednesday night, though, Milton had to play an essential role for the Sixers shockingly. So the veteran ended up clocking in for a season-high of 23 minutes against the Toronto Raptors on the road.
Initially, there was a good chance Milton wasn't even going to play for the Sixers. But with Josh Richardson getting injured within the first few minutes along with Matisse Thybulle finding himself in some early foul trouble, Brett Brown had no other options.
Shake Milton had to play for the Sixers on Wednesday. For the most part, his progress in previous games this year wasn't so promising. Hence the reason why he remains on the bench more often than not.
Against Toronto, though, Milton was a pleasant surprise. Despite the Sixers falling to the Raptors for the second time this season, Milton was far from the issue. During his 23 minutes off the bench, the young guard accounted for nine total points, four rebounds, and two assists. Milton's bright spot happened to be his three-point shooting, as he drained three of his six attempted shots from deep.
Milton's performance against the Raptors won't earn him tons of playing time moving forward, but it did warrant some credit from his peers. It first started with Brett Brown. Without Embiid and Richardson on the floor, Coach Brown understood the Sixers needed to do all they could to "hunt threes" against the Raptors.
The second-year guard stepped up and did just that. "Shake was a part of that environment that I just said (hunting threes), and I thought he played really quite well," Brown said. Sixers' point guard and leader, Ben Simmons, also credited Milton for his production following the loss. "I think he was great," Simmons mentioned. "He stepped up and did really good."
With Richardson now expected to miss at least two week's worth of games moving forward, there is a chance Milton picks up a steady pace of minutes until the injured guard returns. However, Milton's lone performance in Toronto won't give the Sixers enough confidence to move forward without thinking about making a deal.
If the Sixers do end up grabbing a shooting guard via trade, Milton's chances of picking up minutes will be slim to none -- even with Richardson nursing a hamstring injury. The former second-rounder will most likely have an opportunity to prove his worth over the next couple of games, but he will have to really make an impact in order to maintain his handful of minutes with Richardson out.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_