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Shake Milton Would Add Size, Shooting to Blazers Backcourt

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As we continue our prospect watch at BlazersEdge, Brian Freeman helps break down SMU guard Shake Milton.

USC v SMU Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

With the 2018 NBA Draft around the corner and the Portland Trail Blazers holding the 24th selection in the first round, we’re looking at a number of prospects who might fall into that area. Today we check out a lanky shooter out of SMU, Shake Milton.

Malik “Shake” Milton - Junior, SMU

  • Height: 6’6”
  • Weight: 195
  • Wingspan: 7’0”
  • Shoots: Right
  • Position: PG
  • Age: 21
  • Projected draft range: Late first - Early second

2017-18 Statistics

  • PPG: 18.0 | Per 40: 19.8
  • RPG: 4.4 | Per 40: 4.8
  • APG: 4.7 | Per 40: 5.2
  • STL: 1.4 | Per 40: 1.6
  • BLK: 0.6 | Per 40: 0.7
  • FG%: 44.9
  • FT%: 84.7
  • 3P%: 43.4 (2.5/5.9)

2017-18 Season

Malik Milton, better known as Shake, led the SMU Mustangs to a Blazing start to the 2017-18 season. With Milton leading the way, they won 12 of their first 15 games and picked up 3 early wins against ranked opponents. Shake struggled in a win against second-ranked Arizona, but turned heads after a 22 point, 9 assist effort against the 14th ranked USC Trojans. His signature game of the season followed when he scored 33 points and chipped in 5 assists on the road in a win against 7th ranked Witchita State. He pulled the feat off on only 14 shots. From that moment on he was on all NBA radars. A hand/finger injury in late January cut Milton’s season short. Without their leader in points and assists, the injury ridden Mustangs finished the season losing 9 of their last 11 games.

Strengths

His name, ‘Shake’ may signify a stellar one-on-one game, but make no mistake, Shake is a shooter. He shot 42.7% from 3 on 445 attempts during his three years in college. He’ll pull up behind a ball screen, he’ll pull up off the bounce, and he’s great on the catch and shoot. His height and length and incredibly quick release make his shot hard to bother. Milton is a tough, competitive guy, that wants the ball in his hands. Miss or make, he always feels like that next one is always going in. Safe to say, Shake cant be shook.

Length and size help guide the SMU point guard on the defensive end, as well. He is not a lock down defender, but that crazy 7’0 wingspan helps him bother shots. While he’s not an extremely gifted athlete, he’s quick enough opposing teams wont target him as a liability.

Milton’s scoring often overshadows his play making ability. He’s not an elite passer, but he’s smart with the ball and can find an open man. Most of the damage he caused his junior year came out out of the pick and roll. He comes off the ball screen immediately reading the defense and understands whether to look for his own shot or to find the open man. Milton is a scorer at heart, and that will be what carries him to the next level, but 4.8 assists per game is nothing to scoff at.

Weaknesses

Milton has solid height but he needs to put on muscle before he can handle the strength of NBA players. His upper body is serviceable but his lower body won’t allow him to hold position at the next level. Defensively, he can be bullied off the ball, and his lack of a solid base make it harder to switch him onto bigger players.

Shake is a capable defensive rebounder for a guard but the rest of his defensive game is pretty average. He doesn't read passing lanes, not much of a weak side rim protector and overall doesn’t make the offense uncomfortable or create plays defensively.

Shake is a decent athlete but his movements, especially on the drive, are not that fluid. He’s not smooth or creative on the bounce and it forces him into shots in traffic. He’ll need to improve vision while penetrating too if he is expected to create at the NBA level. He was able to handle pressure at the college level but his high dribble and less than elite quickness does raise some concern about his ability to be effective against elite NBA defense. His turnover rate of 2.5 per game is high, but reasonable given his role and usage rate.

Overall Assessment

Shake Milton is a fascinating prospect. A 6’6 point guard with elite length and shooting is enticing to any team. He may be better suited to play the shooting guard in the NBA and could face a learning curve when playing without the ball in his hands. Either way, those point guard skills will help him in the long term. If he develops an NBA body, he has the size to play some small forward.

If Milton puts in work in the weight room and improves his skills on the move, he could become one of the more versatile players in this draft. The biggest risk is there that the NBA may be too big and fast for him. If he can adjust to the pace, Milton shouldn't have any problem finding a niche in the NBA.

Overall Fit

Size and shooting in the backcourt are both certainly on the off-season ‘to do’ list for the Trail Blazers. Ideally, Portland would also like to add defensive potential in any backcourt addition, but adding a player that can play both on and off the ball while knocking down shots is exactly what this team needs offensively. If he proves he can play the 3, his value to Portland skyrockets. Predictions on Milton’s draft position are scattered, often times in the early second round, Shake Milton certainly has first round abilities.

Would you draft Shake Milton? How would you feel if the Blazers did? Let us know in the comments below.