How Shake Milton fills a Slo-Mo like role in Timberwolves back court

Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves team and fans were incredibly pleased with the performance of versatile forward Kyle Anderson last season. While the Timberwolves front office primarily sought a forward who could come into a game off the bench to offer a bit of offense and defense, the team soon learned through the painful ordeal of unexpected injuries and a dysfunctional roster that Kyle Anderson could be so much more.

So why not roll the dice on a versatile veteran for the Timberwolves backcourt?  And so, the Timberwolves opted to extend a contract offer to a very versatile former Philadelphia 76ers guard, Shake Milton.  And so far, the results appear to be very impressive.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have stockpiled guards this offseason. While the team has two very talented and promising wings in Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Wendell Moore Jr., they both lean more heavily into the shooting guard  / small forward variety of players with huge wingspans, plenty of speed and agility, a proclivity to deliver solid defense, and the primary role of securing a perimeter presence.

Shake Milton in a Patrick Beverley role?

The Timberwolves did not have the combination guard role that they once had with veteran Patrick Beverley and, to a smaller degree, with D’Angelo Russell. Wouldn’t it be awesome if the Timberwolves could combine the defense and audacity of PatBev with the scoring of Dlo?  Well, the team hasn’t had that option. Until now, that is.

In two preseason games, Shake Milton’s stat lines are as follows:

Game 1: 20 minutes | 12 points | 1 assist | 4 rebounds | 1 steal | 66.7 3PT% | (+/-) (-7)
Game 2: 15 minutes | 4 points | 3 assists | 1 rebound | 1 block | 0 3PT% | (+/-) +14

So, what makes Milton so solid?  Keep in mind that in Game 1, the Timberwolves had benched starting shooting guard Anthony Edwards. Milton was able to help pick up some of the slack due to Edwards’ absence by putting up a solid amount of scoring. And he was remarkably effective from the perimeter in that preseason opener.

And yet, with the return of Anthony Edwards in Game 2, Milton morphed his game completely. He was far less active offensively and made it a point to distribute the basketball more often.  In fact, he was the runner-up in terms of assists in the game to reserve PG Jordan McLaughlin.

The role that Shake Milton fills on the Timberwolves roster is not a clear-cut category. It will be a role that has differing priorities with each game. Few NBA players can flourish in that type of role, but indications are that Shake Milton can. And when not covering the bases all over the backcourt, Milton will have a default role as a facilitator, a role that he could be much better at than expected.

Did the Timberwolves strike it rich once more? While it’s so very early, Timberwolves Coach Chris Finch is not one to embellish a player needlessly. I think Milton will become a solid addition to this Timberwolves team. Not just as a backup point guard. I believe that he will give Coach Finch enough confidence to mix and match him in multiple roles for this team throughout the 2023-24 NBA season.

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