Can Doc Rivers help unlock the next level for Tobias Harris and Shake Milton?
The hiring of Doc Rivers brings so much to the possible development of the Sixers core players. Everyone is obviously excited about what he can do for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Tobias Harris and Shake Milton also have the ability to grow the most under Rivers’ era with the 76ers.
Tobias Harris has been severely underrated during his time with the 76ers. Although his playoff performances have been dismal to say the least, there is a lot to be excited about with Harris. Being the 3rd option behind Simmoons and Embiid, Harris was still averaging over 20 points per game this season. Harris shot 47% from the field and about 34% from 3 in his 1 ½ years with the Sixers.
Before he was traded here Tobias was with Doc Rivers in Los Angeles.
During his time in LA, Harris was scoring over 20 points per game and shot almost 44% from 3 before being traded to the Sixers. That is about a 10% difference in shooting outside which the Sixers could heavily benefit from. Harris like I said, hasn’t been unproductive in Philadelphia but going back to his LA form would make his contract a lot more pretty.
Rivers had talked in the press conference about utilizing Harris and getting him in positions to succeed. With the possibility of Simmons staying at Power Forward, the transition for Harris could be tricky. Harris has clearly shown he plays better when at the 4 so moving back could cause some issues. I wouldn’t doubt Doc has a plan in mind to effectively use Tobias and have him fit well with Ben, Joel, and company.
Harris isn’t who I’m most excited about. That would go to the Sixers’ rising star Shake Milton. Late into the season, Shake started to show up as a solid piece for the Sixers. This was highlighted by a 39 point performance against his new coach in early March, which Doc mentioned he had not forgotten during his first press conference as the Sixers’ new coach. Milton looks to be in a spot to be the Sixers starting guard or at the very least, 6th man next season.
Doc has a history of having young guards flourish in his system. Early into his time with Boston, both Delonte West and Rajon Rondo began to stand out with Rondo becoming the 4th star for the Celtics 2008 title. West had his best years in Boston scoring 11 and 12 points per game in his 2nd and 3rd seasons in Boston respectively. Towards the end of his years in Boston, Doc began to also mold guard Avery Bradley who became a very good perimeter shooter for the Celtics under both him and Brad Stevens.
When Rivers moved to Los Angeles there was plenty of talent for him to work with. The most obvious piece was Chris Paul. Paul helped anchor the PG position for LA but there were other prominent players who grew off the bench at Point. Jamal Crawford at 33 years old had his best season in over 5 years when Rivers took over in 2014, winning 6th Man of the Year. His son, Austin Rivers also grew into a good bench Guard for the Clippers starting in 2014-2015 through 2018 where he averaged a career high 15 Points per game in 2017-2018. The last major example was during the 2018-2019 season with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. SGA had an incredible rookie year averaging 10 points and 3 assists in about 25 minutes. Gilgeous-Alexander has started to become a young star in OKC and a key piece towards their future.
With Shake, Doc has the chance to once again emulate what he once did with players like Rondo and many others. Shake has such a versatile skill set with his scoring ability and length. Even if he doesn’t start, Shake can definitely be a very valuable piece for the Sixers success going forward and with Doc his ceiling can be raised 10-fold.
Mandatory Credit: JOHN E. SOKOLOWSKI USA TODAY SPORTS