76ers

Shake Milton has shown enough to have his contract converted, help Sixers in playoffs

Shake Milton has shown enough to have his contract converted, help Sixers in playoffs

The Sixers appear to have done pretty well for themselves in the 2018 draft.

After some wheeling and dealing, the Sixers ultimately ended up with Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet in the first round.

While Smith may have been the more highly-touted prospect and Shamet earned his way into the team’s rotation before being traded, the guy they drafted in the second round may be the one that can help them in the postseason.

On Monday night, Shake Milton saw his first NBA action since Feb. 2, and showed exactly why the Sixers should convert his two-way deal to a standard NBA contract.

Milton was outstanding during his time in the G-League with the Blue Coats. Drafted 54th overall out of SMU, he averaged 24.9 points per game in 27 games with Delaware, but will need his contract converted before the end of the regular season to be eligible for the playoffs.

During the Sixers’ loss to the Kings back in February, Brett Brown rolled with Milton for over 20 minutes and in some crucial moments as the team was making a comeback. It appeared Milton was set to get more minutes going forward with veteran Wilson Chandler out. Three days later with the Blue Coats, Milton suffered a broke bone in his finger on his shooting hand that required surgery and kept him out for a month.

He didn’t ease himself back into the lineup, pouring in 31 points in his return to action. In the last 10 games of Delaware’s season, he averaged 27 points a game.

It would be fine if all Milton could do is score, but he actually has a lot more to offer. You saw a little of that in his 13-point performance Monday.

He made a nice cut off a Jimmy Butler drive. When Butler finds him, he’s open but in kind of an awkward spot on the floor and on the move. Milton gathers himself, squares up and hits a short jumper.

A couple possessions later, Tobias Harris was dribbling toward the wing with Milton in the corner. With Milton’s reputation as a shooter, his defender is overplaying him and trying to do deny him the ball for the corner three. Milton recognizes and makes a backdoor cut and Harris hits him for an easy basket.

Later in the first half, he takes a wayward pass that moves him off his spot off another Butler drive, calmly takes one dribble to his left, and nails the three.

All of these plays illustrate Milton’s incredible poise for a rookie and how he just understands the game of basketball. He was a four-year player at SMU and is 22 years old, so unlike the 19-year-old Smith, he can be trusted more in a playoff-like atmosphere.

You can also see just how pure his shooting stroke is. Even on the move, he always seems to be able to gather himself, get square to the basket and the shot itself just looks effortless. He shot just under 43 percent from three for his college career and it appears to be translating to the NBA.

What’s stood out most during Milton’s brief NBA stint is he’s not a bad defender. He’s not the most athletic — probably a big reason he slipped into the second round — but he has decent feet, long arms and, again, just excellent instincts and feel for a player his age.

The Sixers have absolutely nothing to lose by converting Milton’s deal. Even if he doesn’t help them this season, he’s shown enough to warrant a long look to be part of next season’s rotation. If you re-sign both Butler and Harris, you need good, cheap, young players to fill out your bench.

The Sixers’ starting five is elite, but their bench is bad. There’s no way around it. They have no one that can score consistently and no true lockdown defender.

Just give the kid a shot.

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

Sixers sign and then waive Shizz Alston Jr., Terry Harris for purpose of adding them to Delaware Blue Coats

usa_shizz_alston_terry_harris.jpg
USA Today Images

Sixers sign and then waive Shizz Alston Jr., Terry Harris for purpose of adding them to Delaware Blue Coats

Updated: 2:27 p.m.

The 2019-20 Delaware Blue Coats are shaping up to be a fascinating team.

The Sixers are signing and then waiving Terry Harris, Shizz Alston Jr., Julian Washburn, Jared Brownridge and Xavier Munford with the purpose of adding them to the Blue Coats. Harris' deal is an Exhibit 9 contract.

Terry Harris is the younger brother of Sixers forward Tobias Harris, whom the team re-signed to a five-year, $180 million contract this summer. Terry played for the Sixers this year in summer league and scored nine points in three games. The 6-foot-6 wing worked out with the Sixers in June and said "it would be a blessing" to play with Tobias for the first time since eighth grade. As a redshirt senior at North Carolina A&T, Terry averaged 8.1 points per game and shot 41.1 percent from three-point range. Outside shooting is his trademark skill.

Alston grew up in Philadelphia and attended The Haverford School before going to Temple, where he played for four years. The point guard had an excellent senior season, leading Temple to a 23-10 record and averaging 19.7 points and 5.0 assists per game. Like Harris, he had a pre-draft workout for the Sixers. Alston played with the Indiana Pacers in summer league and scored 24 points across three contests.

The 6-foot-8 Washburn has 136 career games of experience in the G League, including 38 last season between the Austin Spurs and Memphis Hustle. He signed a two-way contract with the Grizzlies in January and appeared in 18 NBA games last year, averaging 2.2 points and 2.3 rebounds. Washburn was part of the trade between the Grizzlies and Warriors in July involving Andre Iguodala, and was later waived by Golden State.

Brownridge, who played his college ball at Santa Clara, played 49 games (27 starts) with the Blue Coats last season. He led the G-League in threes made with 187.

Munford spent last season with the Milwaukee Bucks G-League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd. He's also played in China and Spain after his collegiate career at Rhode Island ended.

In addition to Washburn, Alston, Harris, Brownridge and Munford, 7-foot-3 Christ Koumadje, Saint Joseph's product Isaiah Miles and Haywood Highsmith are candidates for the Blue Coats this season. Those three players were part of the Sixers' preseason roster and will be waived (see story).

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

Sixers waive Christ Koumadje, Haywood Highsmith and Isaiah Miles

Sixers waive Christ Koumadje, Haywood Highsmith and Isaiah Miles

Updated: 2:17 p.m.

The Sixers have waived Christ Koumadje, Isaiah Miles and Haywood Highsmith. Those moves leave the team with its regular-season roster of 15 players, with Marial Shayok and Norvel Pelle on two-way contracts.

Because Koumadje, Miles and Highsmith signed Exhibit 10 contracts this summer, they can be incentivized to join the Delaware Blue Coats. Under the terms of an Exhibit 10 deal, a player who is waived can receive a bonus of up to $50,000 if he signs with the team's G-League affiliate and stays there for at least 60 days. 

Koumadje played four years of college basketball at Florida State and stands 7-foot-3 without shoes. He’s seeking to become the first NBA player from the country of Chad. Senior vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley said in June at a pre-draft workout featuring Koumadje that the big man is agile for his size, which Koumadje attributed to playing soccer and running before fully focusing on basketball.

Koumadje has been seen working on his game with 7-foot-2 player development specialist Roy Hibbert. He said at media day that the Sixers’ player development staff has been helping him develop some of the finer points of his offensive game, such as non-dunk finishes near the basket and ball handling.

A 6-foot-4 wing, Highsmith played in 46 games for the Blue Coats last season, averaging 12.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. He also played in five games for the Sixers, with the team converting his contract to a two-way deal in January. Highsmith, who was waived by the team this summer to free up the two-way spot used on Pelle before signing his Exhibit 10 deal, played at Division II Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia.

Miles played his college basketball much closer to the Wells Fargo Center, at Saint Joseph’s, and is, like Highsmith, a native of Baltimore, Maryland. The 25-year-old was on the Sixers’ summer league teams in 2017-18 and 2018-19, and last played for Limoges CSP in France’s Pro-A league.

Based on what we saw in the preseason, below is a rough, projected depth chart by position. The backup point guard picture isn't yet clear, while several of the players at the shooting guard and small forward spots are interchangeable:

Point guard

Starter: Ben Simmons

Depth: Josh Richardson, Raul Neto/Trey Burke, Shake Milton

Shooting guard

Starter: Josh Richardson

Depth: Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, Shake Milton, Zhaire Smith, Marial Shayok (Two-way player)

Small forward

Starter: Tobias Harris

Depth: James Ennis, Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz

Power forward

Starter: Al Horford 

Depth: Tobias Harris, Mike Scott, Jonah Bolden 

Center

Starter: Joel Embiid

Depth: Al Horford, Kyle O’Quinn, Jonah Bolden, Ben Simmons, Mike Scott, Norvel Pelle (Two-way player) 

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