Sixers 2021 Report Cards: The resurrection of Shake Milton

NBA: MAR 01 76ers at Clippers
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)

Last year was an interesting year for Shake Milton. From being told he was out of the rotation to establishing himself as the best perimeter creator on the Sixers roster, expectations were high heading into year three. Once hoped to be a contender for Sixth man of the year, Shake ended with a disappointing 2021 campaign.

The Highs

Throughout the course of the season, Milton averaged 23.2 mins and produced 13 points along with 3.1 assists and 2.3 rebounds. These were all career-highs for the 6’5 guard, but his shooting numbers took a dip and he only shot 35% from beyond the arc.

The highlight of Shake’s season came in game two of the playoffs when Milton made a surprise appearance off the bench. Starved for bench production, Doc Rivers threw Shake Milton in the game despite him having seemingly fallen out of the rotation toward the end of the season. Midway through the third quarter, Shake provided the first bench points of the game with a stepback three-pointer.

Despite shooting 4 for 19 in the Wizards series, Shake Milton ended his time on the floor with 14 points during his 14 minutes of play in this game. While he did not record another double-digit scoring effort in the remainder of the series, the Sixers likely would not have been able to win game two without Shake’s effort. Avoiding the 2-0 deficit renewed hope in the Sixers season for at least a little and served as a reminder to the electric in a bottle that Shake can provide.

The Lows

While much of it should be attributed to the emergence of Tyrese Maxey, it is tough to look at this season as a success for the SMU product. While competition is never a bad thing, Maxey deservingly seems to have the fast track on securing the bulk of the bench guard minutes, if he doesn’t end up the starting point guard next season.

Shake spent the most minutes paired with several other bench players as he spent just over 96 game minutes alongside Matisse Thybulle, Mike Scott, Dwight Howard, and Furkan Korkmaz. It is worth noting that the lineup of Milton, Curry, Tobias, Simmons, and Embiid was the Sixers’ best statistical lineup out of any five-man combination. It is fair to question if it would have been sustainable, but this unit outscored opposing teams by 49.2 points per 100 possessions.

While his usage is not a criticism that falls on Milton, it was disappointing to see him lose out on his regular bench minutes. It is worth noting that he still received one second-place vote for Sixth Man of the Year this season and his 13 points per game is certainly a respectable number. Milton even scored 15 or more points in 21 of the 63 games he played in this season.

Grade and Outlook Moving Forward: C-

Largely due to his contract, Shake Milton will continue to hold value to the Sixers. The Sixers locked Milton up on a long-term minimum deal following his two-way deal the begin his NBA career. He will be under contract for $1.8 million for next season and there is a team option for just under $2 million the following season. This is incredible value for a player of Shake’s skillset and age, so the Sixers likely won’t be hesitant to keep him around.

With that being said, it is tough to make any plan about the Sixers’ upcoming roster until the Ben Simmons situation is finalized. If a sweetener is needed to get a beneficial trade to occur, Milton could be a guy who gets added to the deal. He still could be a valuable part of the second unit, but the emergence of Tyrese Maxey likely put a halt to any long-term plans centered around Milton. At 24 years old, there is still a lot to be excited about in his career, and look for him to have a more consistent season next year.

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire