Shake Milton received his first real dose of national exposure on Sunday as he splashed onto the scene with a career-high 39 points for the 76ers in a game televised on ABC. Converting on seven shots from downtown along the way, the 23-year-old wowed the crowd and left play-by-play broadcaster Mike Breen in utter amazement with each passing clutch make.
Stepping up to fill a void for a Philadelphia squad plagued by key injuries, Milton answered the coveted call with gusto. While he introduced himself to many NBA fans for the first time in a big way, his moment in the spotlight was a long time coming.
Knocking down the long ball is nothing new for Milton. He shot 43% from deep through three seasons with SMU, going on to average 18 points as a junior in 2018-19. Drafted in the second round (54th overall) of the 2018 NBA Draft, he was acquired by the 76ers and signed to a Two-Way contract. He played sparingly during his rookie year, appearing in just 20 games, but it was during his time with the Delaware Blue Coats that he showed thorough signs of the excellence he proved to be capable of in his breakthrough game.
Milton averaged 24.9 points through 27 games in the NBA G League and was deservingly rewarded for his prowess in the offseason. He signed a multi-year deal with Philadelphia, but still wasn’t done donning a minor league uniform. The guard suited up for six games in the NBA G League earlier this season as he inched his way back to the court following an injury. He averaged 21 points, but even then, his skill had already been proven. This wasn’t about pouring in the points. It was about finding a comfort level and continuing to stay fresh until the time was right. He remained modest throughout.
The young gun patiently waited and served as the consummate teammate, even if that meant cheering on his teammates from the bench more than joining them on the court. But once he was given a chance to hit the hardwood, Milton certainly didn’t disappoint. His 39-point outburst may have come as a surprise to some, but it’s safe to say he was more than warmed up. En route to the special performance, Milton also put the finishing touches on an NBA record. Carrying over from his previous two games, he went on to make 13 straight three-point field goals, tying an impressive mark and etching his name in the history books during a contest he’ll never forget.
Milton’s time in the NBA G League prepared him for his chance and while he may have had to wait his turn, those closest to his efforts recognized his work behind the scenes.
“He did his G League duties. He comes in, he sits on the bench and swings a towel. Now, in March, he’s the starting point guard on a pretty good team and just had 39 points on national TV against a candidate to win an NBA championship. It’s a hell of a story,” 76ers head coach Brett Brown said after the sophomore guard raised eye brows on Sunday (via Ben Golliver of The Washington Post).
The question surrounding the NBA G League is no longer concerning the quality of talent. Instead, a much more emphatic ‘who’s next?’ comes to mind. On March 1, Shake Milton’s name was the answer to that intriguing question. The kind of performance he put together is sure to peak interest, not only in his journey, but also of those who are sure to follow in impressive fashion.