Is Shake Milton the best bang-for-buck player in the NBA?

Philadelphia 76ers
LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 01: Philadelphia 76ers Guard Shake Milton (18) looks on during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Clippers on March 1, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

So much noise has (rightfully) been made on the Sixers’ mismanagement of funds as they have handed out massive contracts to guys like Al Horford and Tobias Harris without a second thought. While these criticisms are fair, there has not been enough talk about the bargain of a contract that was agreed to by Shake Milton just a year and a half ago. Cementing his role as the 6th man and becoming a key player on the team has been extremely important to the Sixers as he has provided a necessary scoring pop off the bench. It is even more impressive to consider he is still under contract for 2 additional years after this season at an average salary of about $1.8 million per year.

Shake Milton: The early years

After spending 3 years at Southern Methodist University, Shake produced enough to put himself as a legitimate candidate for the NBA draft. In his final season, he averaged 18 points per game and he shot a career 42.7% from beyond the arc on 5.1 attempts per game at SMU. A broken hand ended his final season early and likely caused his draft stock to tank, which thankfully resulted in him becoming a 76er after falling to the 54th pick.

Milton was given a two-way contract to play primarily with the Delaware Blue Coats his rookie year. Despite seeing just 268 primarily garbage-time minutes across 20 games in the NBA this season, Shake tore up the G-League and established himself as a prospect with high potential. Milton averaged 24.9 points per game along with 4.9 assists and 4.9 rebounds this season. His scoring total ranked him at 4th in the G-League in points per game this season.

It’s payday fellas

Heading into the 2019-2020 season, Elton Brand and the Sixers front office showed their faith in Shake by offering him an extension and a “real” NBA contract. In a move straight out of the book of Sam Hinkie, the Sixers gave the former second-round pick more guaranteed money and long-term security with the hopes he would greatly outplay this value. As far as the specific terms, Shake’s contract would begin at a base salary of $1.4 million in his first season with that number increasing to just under $2 million in the final year of his deal (2022-23). This 4th year is technically a team option for the Sixers, but it seems pretty clear they will pick this up and keep him as long as possible.

Shake Milton Mania

The early days of this contract did not go smoothly as Shake started off poorly in summer league and suffered a sprained ankle forcing him to miss the remainder of the games. This string of bad luck continued as Milton also suffered a knee sprain when he returned to play and quickly found himself buried in the depth chart. Brett Brown went as far as to tell Shake that he would not be a part of the rotation and it seemed he was destined to spend his time in the G-League once again.

This all changed when Ben Simmons suffered a back injury which opened the door for Shake to get the chance he needed. Milton took full advantage of this and he put together a crazy string of games to secure his future role with the Sixers.

In one 4-game stretch, Milton averaged 21.25 points per game and tied the NBA record for consecutive 3-pointer made with 13. He also exploded for a 39 point performance against the Clippers while facing his current coach, Doc Rivers.

In total, Milton played 40 games with the Sixers in the 2019-2020 season including 24 games as the starter. He averaged 16.9 points per game along with 4.7 assists and 3.9 rebounds. Shake also shot 43% from three-point range on 6 attempts per game. To put this in perspective just how good this is, Seth Curry ranked 3rd in the NBA this season shooting just a few notches higher at 45.2% from downtown.

Shake Milton has grown into key role

Regardless of the fact that he comes off the bench, Shake Milton has become one of the most important players on this Sixers team. Shake has struggled to fully find his stride yet this year but still ranks 5th on the team in minutes and scoring, with 12.3 points per game. At just 24 years old, Shake is arguably the Sixers’ best pure perimeter scorer and will likely be a player that will be looked to produce in crunch time. Expect these numbers to continue to increase as the season progresses and for a legitimate run at 6th man of the year to be made.

It seems pretty clear that Milton will be primed for a large pay-day once he plays out the remainder of this contract with the Sixers. However, for the time being, he will continue to outproduce the extremely low contract that he is on. Shake has also shown great strides on the defensive end this season spending time guarding legitimate perimeter scorers such as Bradley Beal and RJ Barrett. The flexibility that is brought on by that with money that can be used for other players and the production that Shake brings on the court will pay major dividends for the potential of the team.

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire