Second-Round Candidate: Shake Milton
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
ID CARD: 6-foot-5½ guard, junior, Southern Methodist, 21 years old
DRAFT RANGE: Ranked 41st by ESPN.com, 43rd by SI.com, 23rd among guards by NBA.com
SCOUTS LOVE: Milton’s size, scoring efficiency and ability to play both backcourt spots hold strong appeal. He arrived at SMU as a four-star recruit when Larry Brown had it rolling at a school with little in the way of basketball history. He started most of his freshman season and from that point forward for teams that went a combined 55-10 in his first two years. The Mustangs slumped to 17-16 in Milton’s final season but he missed the final 11 games with a fractured hand. Milton averaged 18.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists over his 22 games and shot with amazing consistency – .423, .426, .434 – from the 3-point arc over his three seasons on a healthy number of attempts.
SCOUTS WONDER: Is there enough variety in Milton’s offense? While his 3-point shooting is a plus, the fact he was a lead guard at SMU and took 52 percent of his field-goal attempts from the far side of the arc might limit his impact. A lead guard who doesn’t have much of a resume running pick and roll will be slotted into lesser roles in the NBA. Milton’s middling athleticism might hurt his draft stock if teams question his ability to handle the point in the NBA. Milton reported interviewing with the Pistons at the NBA draft combine in Chicago last month and was one of many who reported having his decision making tested by their use of virtual-reality technology.
NUMBER TO NOTE: – 2 – the number of repetitions Milton managed on the bench press at the draft combine. Maybe that’s a red flag for some – and maybe for others it opens up the possibility that with a sophisticated NBA strength training regimen Milton would become more explosive athletically and thus a more intriguing prospect.
MONEY QUOTE: “I feel like I can play one, two, three depending on whatever the coach needs me to play. I feel like I have a high enough basketball IQ to be able to do something like that. Of course, there’s going to be a transition period, but I feel like I can make that adjustment.” – Shake Milton at the NBA draft combine in Chicago last month.
PISTONS FIT: The Pistons have Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith under contract for next season and hold an option on Dwight Buycks at point guard. At shooting guard, Luke Kennard goes into the second year of his rookie contract and Reggie Bullock into the last season of his deal. If Milton strikes the Pistons as someone with a legitimate chance to play both backcourt spots, a year of grooming could lead to being part of the solution for 2019-20 at both positions.
BOTTOM LINE: There are those who feel Milton should be a late first-round choice and would be a steal if he got past the early part of the second round for the Pistons. At 21 and with three years of strong college production, he’s got plenty of both experience and developmental potential. If the Pistons believe, as Milton suggested, that he’s also got enough size to guard small forwards – and his wing span of 7-feet-¾ as measured at the combine lends it credence – then move him to the short list of Pistons possibilities if he lasts to their pick at 42.