Last season, Philadelphia 76ers guard Shake Milton won over the starting point guard spot late in the year when Ben Simmons was off the floor battling a back injury. When Simmons returned in time for the NBA bubble, former Sixers head coach Brett Brown kept Milton as the starting point guard while shifting Simmons to power forward.
When Doc Rivers took on the Sixers' head coaching job this season, everything changed again. Although he considers Simmons a position-less player, Rivers once again named Simmons the starting point guard for Philly.
Milton, who was bound to earn a spot in the rotation whether he was starting or not, became Philly's backup point guard in 2020-2021. While he's looked really good at times, it's no secret Milton could be better suited off the ball.
Philly's front office recognized that and made a move to acquire a veteran point guard at the 2021 NBA trade deadline to shake things up a bit. By trading away Tony Bradley, Vincent Poirier, Terrance Ferguson, and several picks, the Sixers landed George Hill.
Since he was still recovering from thumb surgery, Hill couldn't take the court for the Sixers right away. However, at this point, he's got seven games with the Sixers under his belt.
While Hill is still working on getting his body one-hundred percent right and building chemistry with his new teammates, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers seems to enjoy having him as the team's primary backup ball-handler as it makes the 76ers more comfortable and gives Milton a chance to thrive elsewhere.
“We didn’t like it when Shake was the primary ball-handler," Rivers admitted on Friday night after the Sixers defeated the Atlanta Hawks. "He struggles against pressure a little bit and when you bring George (Hill) in, you can’t pressure Shake anymore. We felt like that that would be a good mix for us.”
Before Sunday's game, the Sixers' health has allowed Milton and Hill to get comfortable with playing alongside each other in the second unit for three-straight games. In an average of 16 minutes, Milton has put up 10 points per game while shooting 60-percent from three. Although it's just a small sample size for the third-year guard, it's clear that taking some of the pressure off of Milton in the second unit is addition by subtraction.