I’m a firm believer that late in the Draft, whether it be the late first or early second round, teams should draft for need. Swing for the fences in the lottery; go for the “best player available” if that’s what the organization needs to do.
However, outside of the Top-20 picks or so, completely different story. Positional need, skill-set need, and situation are determining factors that should be weighed before selecting a young prospect.
As we all know, the Magic were awarded the sixth pick in the upcoming NBA Draft last Tuesday night. Regardless of what the Magic decide to do with that pick, one fact remains.
Heading into next season, the Magic have one point guard on their roster with a guaranteed contract. Of course, Orlando’s new management team decided to trade former Magic starting point guard Elfrid Payton at the NBA Trade Deadline last February. That created an opportunity for Shelvin Mack to earn some regular minutes for the Magic to close the year out, but his contract next season is only partially guaranteed.
The Magic own the 35th and 41st picks in this draft, they need to use one of those picks to add some point guard depth to the roster.
And I think the lead-guard depth in this class is most plentiful in the 25-45 range, so the Magic are in a great situation to have a look at guys like Landry Shamet, Khyri Thomas, Tony Carr, Devonte Graham, and others.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve profiled Aaron Holiday, Jevon Carter, Jalen Brunson, and Elie Okobo.
I believe the Magic should take an opportunity in this spot to target their guy who can become the team’s back-up point guard. If he’s not going to be there at #35, they can try packaging their two picks in an effort to move up (into the 25-30 range for example). The Magic also have Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross, two players with expiring contracts, to work with.
I’m going to provide pieces that take a deeper look at the kind of lead guards the Magic should be targeting in an effort to rebuild their point guard depth.
Fifth in this series, I profile a versatile guard from the Great Plains region who can do a bit of everything on the floor.
Shake Milton (21 years old)
6-5.5, 205 lbs. (nearly a 7-1 wingspan)
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I’ve been putting off writing this first paragraph of my breakdown of Shake Milton for some time now. Truthfully, it’s been because I really don’t know where exactly to start with Milton. This kid can do a little bit of everything. Shoot the ball, score; rebound the basketball, dish it out. He can do it all.
Do you like length in a guard? It’s certainly not a prerequisite for what makes-up a solid NBA lead guard, but for Milton, his length is just a cherry on top of what he can offer a team.
In Milton, you’re talking about a guard who measures just under 6-6 with a wingspan over 7 feet. To put that length into perspective, Milton’s wingspan measured at the combine longer than forwards in this class projected to be drafted in the first round (such as Miles Bridges, Kevin Knox, and Michael Porter Jr.).
Milton’s defensive numbers haven’t been dominant in college, but the size and strength that he brings to the position at the very least makes Milton’s defensive upside at the next level somewhat projectable (career Defensive Rating of 99 at SMU, 1.6 steals per/40 last season). In the NBA, Milton should be able to defend two, if not three positions (he can guard both 1’s and 2’s, and should eventually be able to handle small forwards with added strength). To be a positive defensive contributor at the next level, Milton is going to have to improve his defensive awareness (within a team concept), become a little less stiff in his stance, and certainly get stronger (especially in his lower half).
Milton’s long range shooting ability is probably his strongest skill at this point. Milton never shot below 42% from three-point distance in any of his three seasons at SMU. Considering the volume in which he was taking those attempts (Career - 6 3PTA’s per/40), that’s pretty damn impressive (2.8 3PTM’s per/40, 43% last season).
Milton definitely plays to his strengths. The young man can shoot the basketball, and over half of his career field goal attempts have been from deep (Career 3PAr - .518). I’m fine with Milton firing away; he’s never been the best finisher in the paint at the college level. Despite his excellent length and lateral quickness, Milton seems to play at a very slow pace. I think he’s struggled in the past at getting to and finishing at the rim (probably more of a touch thing than anything). Inside the arc, Milton’s go-to move is a right-handed floater that he pushes over smaller defenders.
Milton was enjoying a dazzling junior season that was cut short last year 22 games into the campaign. He missed SMU’s final eleven games with a broken right hand, an injury that Milton is presumed to be fully recovered from.
Mike Gribanov, who writes for The Stepien, describes Milton as a “poised decision-maker” who doesn’t try to do too much on the floor. Gribanov thinks Milton is probably a wing/secondary play-maker at the next level who can get away with playing point guard from time to time. He thinks Milton is an unselfish player who has improved his ability to run an offense during his three years in college, but he still questions his floor vision and sees too many instances on film where Milton struggles against defensive pressure.
Milton started 23 games his freshmen season, but he clearly wasn’t fully equipped yet to run the offense (2.7 APG, 14% AST%). However, he took a significant leap his sophomore season, improving his PER from 14.6 to 19.1, his Assist Percentage from 14% to 23.9%, his “Points Produced” per/minute metric from 0.29 to 0.37, and his OBPM rating from 4.5 to 5.6. Before the injury to his hand ended his final year in the AAC, Milton was besting the numbers he put up in ‘16-’17 (PER - 24.2, AST% - 25.9%, PP per/minute - 0.47, OBPM - 6.4).
The smoothness of Milton’s game is absolutely better suited in half-court situations. I’m confident that Milton will be a solid NBA pick-and-roll initiator. While not elite, Milton has passing ability solid enough to make the right reads in the pick-and-roll. Defenders will pay for going under screens against Milton, and he possesses the size to see over smaller defenders as well.
Shake Milton’s best film: January 17th @ Wichita State
Milton’s line: 33 points (11-14 FGA’s, 5-6 3PTA’s, 6-6 FTA’s), 5 assists
Southern Methodist was not as talented this year as they have been in the past. This particular film is a strong one for Milton because you can see the kind of elite NBA talent he possesses. His shot-making ability carried an otherwise mediocre team to victory inside one of the most difficult venues college basketball has to offer.
Gribanov feels that Milton must continue to “be a knockdown shooter to bring positive value” to a prospective NBA club. He projects Milton as a “3 & D” wing player with “some ball skills at the next level”.
I don’t know if Milton has the kind of NBA ceiling that will allow him to become a starting point guard for a team in the future. There’s a lot he needs to figure out and continue to develop. He must get stronger; against the best players in the world, he’s going to have to find some more quick burst and athleticism - get rid of the stiffness at times on the defensive end.
Milton has progressed as a lead guard in college, but he will need to continue to hone his point guard skills at the next level. I don’t know if Milton will ultimately settle in as an NBA point guard or shooting guard. It probably depends on the organization that drafts him and what they need.
I don’t think it matters, I am in love with his versatility. His size and length alone allow for him to guard multiple positions in the NBA. His play-making ability, while not exemplary, is enough to keep him on the floor while playing either the lead guard or wing positions.
And his shooting, his shooting will play at the next level (TS% over 60% two of his three years in college). I see a lot of Delon Wright in Milton’s game, but I think he has even more offensive upside.
I would be shocked if the Magic don’t at least invite Milton to Orlando for an individual workout. His draft range is probably anywhere from 20 through where Orlando will be selecting at #35. Milton can shoot, score, help produce points, etc. He seemingly covers a lot of what Orlando should be looking for in a prospect.
The Magic may have to “shake down” a guard in the early second round (or perhaps trade up, back into the late first round) that fits their team needs. Shake Milton very well could be that man.