Leading up to the NBA suspending its season on March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic, 76ers second-year guard Shake Milton was on the best roll of his young career. The recent success hasn’t stopped Milton from questioning the NBA’s restart for a few reasons.
Like teammate Joel Embiid, who earlier on Tuesday stated his apprehension on the NBA’s restart, Milton shared his misgivings during a Zoom call with reporters.
“I don’t think we should be playing, but I think the NBA is doing all that they can to make the environment as safe as possible,” Milton said. “My teammates want to play, so we’re going to go down there and try to get a win.”
He said the virus is only one reason why he has his misgivings.
“I feel like there are issues going on right now in the world that are way bigger than the sport, way bigger than the game of basketball,” Milton said. “And I feel like we’re on the cusp of finally having people tune in and really try to listen and try to understand more about the things that are happening in our country. And I feel like the moment is too big right now and I don’t want the game of basketball to overshadow it.”
When Ben Simmons went out of the lineup with a pinched nerve in his lower back during a 119-98 loss to Milwaukee on Feb. 22, he was replaced by Milton. In that game and the next eight leading up to when the NBA season was suspended , Milton averaged 17.8 points, but most impressive was his shooting efficiency. He shot 60.4% from three-point range (29-for-48) and 57.4% overall. Milton also averaged 4.1 assists to 1.6 turnovers in 29.9 minutes.
“I definitely feel more confident,” he said.
The Sixers will depart for Orlando, Fla., on Thursday as the NBA gets ready for the restart. Teams will practice and play three scrimmages before the season opens July 30. (The Sixers open Aug. 1 against the Indiana Pacers).
Even despite questioning the NBA’s return, Milton is ready to build on his late-season surge.
“I feel great,” he said. “I am dialed in and ready to go.”
Sixers third-year swingman Furkan Korkmaz did not return home to Turkey during the pandemic. While he missed his family, he felt it was the safest thing to do.
“I was talking to my family all day, you know. My friends, they were asking me, ‘Hey, is there a chance to come [home]?’” Korkmaz said during a Zoom interview Tuesday. “Every time I was like, ‘Maybe, maybe.' But I couldn’t really go back because all around the world this virus affects all the countries.”