Shake Milton made a name for himself last season after injuries to key players propelled him from a seat on the bench to a spot in the rotation. Milton was told by former Sixers coach Brett Brown that he probably wouldn’t be a part of the mix when the season started. Milton then suddenly found himself in the fold and ended up playing 40 games for the Sixers. He even started in 24 of them.
This season, Milton put up an encouraging 9.4 points and 2.6 assists per game while shooting an efficient 48.4% from the field and a whopping 43% from 3 on 3.4 attempts. As a starter, Milton’s scoring increased to 12.5 points and his assists averages jumped to 3.8. The really exciting part about Milton’s development last season was his performance in the playoffs. Under the brightest lights and in the absence of Ben Simmons, Milton averaged 14.5 points and 2.8 assists on good efficiency while playing 31.5 minutes per game in the series against the Boston Celtics.
Milton isn’t a pure point guard. He is a good ball-handler and a capable shot-maker who can get hot at a moment’s notice but he struggles with his decision making at times and is better suited as a secondary ball-handler who can provide instant offense. Does that remind you of anyone? It should remind you of Jamal Crawford.
Here is a quick comparison of Jamal Crawford and Shake Milton’s stats in their first 2 seasons.
First Year: 4.6 points, 1.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 35.2% FG, 35% 3PT
Second Year: 9.3 points, 1.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 47.6% FG, 44.8% 3PT
First Year: 4.4 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 39.1% FG, 31.8% 3PT
Second Year: 9.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 48.4% FG, 43% 3PT
Very comparable right?
Crawford made a name for himself in the league by being a spark plug off the bench and providing his teams with consistent offensive production as part of the second unit. Crawford is a 3-time Sixth Man of the Year award winner and is often regarded as one of the greatest bench players of all time. 2 of Crawford’s Sixth Man of the Year awards actually came under new Sixers head coach Doc Rivers.
Rivers was able to get the most out of Crawford in Los Angeles. He put him in a position to be both individually successful and an integral component of a highly successful offense. Rivers could have a similar effect on Shake Milton. Milton may not have Crawford’s famous “Shake-N-Bake” move down but he displays similar characteristics and abilities. He has a knack for putting the ball through the basket and is not afraid to take big shots. Rivers knows this first hand from when Milton dropped 39 points on his team’s head all the way back in March.
The Sixers need a lot of shooting. Milton was a nice surprise for them in that department last season. However, they also lack bench production. Milton was thrown into a starting role due to spacing issues but the best way to use him may be as a microwave scorer off the bench. Whether he runs with the starters or leads the second unit, Doc Rivers will find a way to maximize Shake Milton and having coached Jamal Crawford will help him do just that.