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New Orleans Pelicans Draft Profiles: Shake Milton

Jake Madison

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the week of the NBA Draft and now we’re starting to get a clearer idea of the players expected to be available for the Pelicans with the 51st overall pick. Let’s take a look at a guy The Ringer has projected to the Pelicans in the 2nd round.

Shake Milton

Guard, Junior, SMU, 6’ 5.5”, 207 lbs, 21 years old

18 ppg, 45.2% FG, 42.7% 3PT, 79.1 FT, 4.7 Reb, 4.4 Ast, 1.1 Stl

A point guard in college, Milton projects to have the ability to play both guard spots. As a primary ball handler Milton was able to create for himself and others. In the pick and roll he shows the ability to read the defense and make the right, usually simple and easy, decision and pass. He also has a quick, fluid release on his shot and works well in an off ball, secondary creator role with his spot up shooting.

Milton’s length makes him a disruptive force on the defensive side of the ball. His wingspan allows him to get his arms in passing lanes, and his height makes him tough to see over, obstructing opponents’ vision. He showed off good lateral quickness at the combine and should be able to reliable defend both backcourt spots in the NBA.

There are reasons, however, that Milton projects as a second round pick. He struggles as a shooter off the dribble and struggles finishing around the rim. One of the reasons he was an effective scorer at SMU was his ability to draw fouls, and it’s a question if he’ll be able to do so against NBA defenses. His lack of overall athleticism and burst makes you wonder if he’ll be able to be a lead guard, or play more of an off ball role in the NBA. And, as most rookies are, he lacks the strength to defend up a position on switches.

How Does He Fit?

With the future of Ian Clark up in the air, Milton could be, nearly, a direct replacement. Milton, like Clark, is much better as a combo guard/secondary creator role. Have him out there to space the court for the second unit with Rajon Rondo or another point guard and the offense will be fine. And while it remains to be seen if he’ll get to the free throw line as consistently as he did in college, in New Orleans he’ll certainly be in an advantageous position to try with Anthony Davis and, potentially, DeMarcus Cousins on the same team.

Defensively, having another guard to press the point of attack is never a bad thing—particularly with the second unit. And while Milton is a far better on ball defender than he is off—he lacks the same focus as a help defender which leads to late rotations—you hope the right coaching staff would help that improve.

There’s a lot to like about Shake Milton, but with almost everything he does well there is a question mark about the ability to do it at the NBA level. It may keep him out of the first round and leave the Pelicans in position to take a flyer on him. We’ll find out Thursday.

Are you a fan of Shake Milton? Or is there someone else you want the Pelicans to draft? Let us know in the comments below, and stay tuned for more draft profiles this week on Locked on Pelicans.

Jake J. Madison is the host of the daily Locked on Pelicans podcast. Covering the Pelicans and NBA since 2010, you can catch him on various sports programs around New Orleans and nationally.

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