76ers

Larry Brown reflects on Shake Milton's development since he coached him

Larry Brown reflects on Shake Milton's development since he coached him

Shake Milton took the NBA world by storm when he dropped 39 points on the Clippers in L.A. back on March 1.

It left a lot of basketball fans asking, “Who the heck is Shake Milton?”

One man who knew the guard very well was former Sixers head coach Larry Brown. Brown had recruited Milton and coached him for a short time at SMU. 

“One of the greatest kids I’ve ever been around in my life,” Brown said of Milton as a guest on the Sixers Talk podcast. “And he loves it [in Philadelphia] — respects the coaches, loves the players.”

Brown said he “got lucky” in stealing away the Oklahoma native from the University of Oklahoma and Indiana. Brown wound up retiring in the middle of the 2015-16 season and only coached Milton for 21 games as a freshman.

“He was tough on you,” Milton told NBC Sports Philadelphia's Noah Levick back in December of 2018, “but at the end of the day, you knew that he cared about you and you knew that he would stand by you, go to war with you. He was somebody that I know I could always come to no matter what. He was more than a coach to me.”

Milton went on to have an outstanding career for the Mustangs, averaging 18 points a game during his junior season. That year, his final one on the college level, was cut short. He played in just 22 games because of a broken right hand.

Unfortunately, injuries became a theme for Milton going into his NBA career.

People forget, early in his last year, his junior year, everybody projected him as a first-round pick. Then he got hurt, he didn’t play the rest of the year. He went to the combine and one of the first games that he played in he got hurt and didn’t tell anybody and didn’t play as well in the combine as most people expected.

“I got calls from everybody in the NBA asking me about Shake and his character and what I thought about him. Obviously I love the kid and was very, very high on him. The remarks to me were, ‘Where does he play?’ The NBA in so many ways tells you what a kid can’t do instead of telling you what a kid can do. That bugs me a little bit.

“But Philly drafted him at No. 54. He slipped considerably because of his showing in the combine, and then when [the Sixers] examined him they found out he was hurt. They were really upset. ... A lot of people were upset with [his agent] and thought they pulled something over Philly’s eyes, but Shake couldn’t work out for anybody during that time and a lot of times after the combine when you have an individual workout, that’s how people judge you.

Nobody can be unhappy with that pick now. 

Milton’s rookie year was largely spent in the G League after the team signed him to a two-way deal — in part because of the back injury he suffered before the draft. Milton shined for the Blue Coats in Delaware and played well during his NBA stints. A broken bone in his right shooting hand came at an inopportune time during his rookie season.

Even when it appeared Milton could become a regular part of Brett Brown’s rotation this season, he suffered a bone bruise and a mild left knee sprain. The emergence of Furkan Korkmaz left Milton as the odd man out when he returned to the lineup.

Though injuries may have mired the start of his NBA career, Ben Simmons’ back injury gave Milton his latest opportunity — and he ran with it. Over his last nine games before the season was suspended, he averaged 19.4 points and shot a preposterous 60.5 percent from three.

Brown believes the time the Sixers spent developing Milton was instrumental in making sure he was ready when injury struck.

“You won’t find a better kid than him, and somebody that really trusts the process,” Brown said. “And Philly did a remarkable job with him. Playing in the G League in Delaware, Shake told me was huge. …

“The greatest thing is they had patience with him. They had some injuries and you never know when the opportunity is going to be there for you to show you can play.”

Subscribe and rate Sixers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

How to watch Sixers at Rockets: Storylines, live stream, game time and more

How to watch Sixers at Rockets: Storylines, live stream, game time and more

For the first time since the 2011-12 lockout year, the Sixers will play fewer than 82 games in a “regular” season. Their 73rd and final game before the postseason is Friday night against the Rockets.

Joel Embiid (left ankle soreness) and Glenn Robinson III (left hip pointer) are questionable, and Russell Westbrook is out for Houston with a right quad strain. 

Here are the essentials:

When: 9 p.m. with Sixers Pregame Live at 8
Where: AdventHealth Arena
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch: 

All about Monday 

Health and “spirit” are the two things Brett Brown has consistently said he hoped the Sixers would have intact for the postseason. The team’s health is significantly compromised with Ben Simmons out after undergoing surgery on his left knee, which is probably more important than an intangible quality like spirit. That said, the Sixers’ morale doesn’t seem too bad given the circumstances. There’s been a little time for everyone to wrap their head around Simmons’ injury and what it means, and the starting lineup enjoyed cheering on the reserves in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s loss to the Raptors.

The Sixers’ first-round series vs. the Celtics begins Monday night (see series schedule). It sounds simple enough … but just get to tip-off of Game 1 with the healthiest version of the current team. 

Is hot outside shooting sustainable? 

Before the NBA’s hiatus, the Sixers were shooting 36.2 percent from three-point range. They’re at 40.6 percent in Disney World, and Joel Embiid and Shake Milton are the only rotation players below their season averages from long range. 

That large of an increase is likely attributable to a small sample size, at least in part, but it does seem that players like Al Horford, Furkan Korkmaz and Alec Burks are comfortable and shooting with confidence. Perhaps it will carry over to the playoffs. 

Small-ball prep 

The Rockets will finish either No. 4 or No. 5 in the Western Conference, a distinction that means very little when there are no true home games. It would therefore be unsurprising if minutes were limited for Houston’s key players. 

One thing that will be interesting to watch regardless is how the Sixers will handle a team without a conventional center. Houston is an extreme practitioner of small ball, but the Sixers’ top lineups will generally be larger than the Celtics’. Horford’s perimeter defense will be tested by Boston.

Subscribe and rate Sixers Talk: 
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

NBA Rumors: Buddy Hield's comments should have Sixers fans intrigued

NBA Rumors: Buddy Hield's comments should have Sixers fans intrigued

The Sixers haven't even started the playoffs, but a potential offseason storyline is already bubbling up.

Kings guard Buddy Hield has been long tied to the Sixers as a potential trade target, from insider chatter to fan speculation, to his accidental (?) fueling of those rumors when he liked an Instagram post earlier this year with a hypothetical trade moving him to Philly.

So when the Kings' season ended Thursday, and Hield was asked if he's comfortable with his role off the bench in Sacramento heading into next season, his answer raised some eyebrows.

Including, I'd imagine, some in Philadelphia.

Here's what Hield had to say:

[Hield] provided a series of short answers during a Zoom session with reporters and offered a cryptic response when asked if he could be content with his role going into next season.

"Y'all know me," Hield said. "Y'all know how I talk. Y'all know how I feel. Y'all can read me well, so I'll let y'all answer that yourselves."

Pretty spicy. That doesn't sound like someone who wants to stay where he is!

Hield signed a four-year extension with Sacramento last October, but the Kings regressed in their first year under head coach Luke Walton, and The Athletic reported in February that Hield, unhappy with his role, might be eyeing a move elsewhere.

It doesn't sound like Hield's concerns about his role have changed much since then. If he's unhappy, he could theoretically ask for a trade - or Sacramento could pre-emptively try to get something for the still-young shooter.

I examined the potential fit back in April, including the hypothetical Hield-for-Horford deal from that fateful Instagram post:

In terms of contract length and salary hit, the Hield and Horford deals are strikingly similar, and Hield's game would be an instant improvement for the Sixers' offensive spacing: he's a two-guard who shoots a career 41.1 percent from deep, and can create his own shot. Plus, he's substantially younger than Horford.

Will the move happen? If the Kings deem their relationship with Hield unfixable, it's possible. Horford hasn't fit well in Philly, but he's still a savvy veteran with a good track record. And Hield would certainly check the boxes for the Sixers' front office.

Hield shot 39% from deep this year on 9.5 (!) three-point attempts per game, is a career 41% three-point shooter over 315 games, and would be a perfect match for the Sixers. 

We'll see.

Subscribe and rate Sixers Talk: 
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers