How the Sixers have been able to develop key role players under the radar

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)

Since being established in 2007, two-way contracts have proven to be an effective way to develop young players. These two additional roster spots allow for players to split time between an NBA team and their G-League affiliate. Any player in their first four seasons is eligible to sign two-way contracts. These two extra roster spots are available to every team, and the Sixers have proven to be especially effective in developing young players.

The Hits:

Shake Milton:

After being selected with the 54th overall pick in the 2018 draft following a successful career at SMU, Shake Milton was inked to a two-way contract with the Sixers. In his first season with the Sixers organization, he played 20 games with the Sixers and also averaged 24.9 points on the G-League level. Satisfied with what he showed, the Sixers inked Shake to a multi-year contract which is still regarded as one of the best value deals in the NBA.

Shake’s trajectory continued to rise and may have hit an all-time high in the bubble with the Sixers. Following the injury to Ben Simmons, Shake was added to the starting lineup and even hit a game-winner for the Sixers.

Heading into this season Shake was looked to continue to grow with the Sixers. Unfortunately for Milton, the emergence of Tyrese Maxey has brought out more competition for minutes and cut into Shake’s time on the court. Despite the disappointment, Shake averaged 13 points per game last year and remains with the Sixers with three more years on his contract.

Bball Paul:

Paul Reed was initially signed to a two-way contract after being selected with the 58th pick in last year’s draft. After exceeding all expectations and earning G-League MVP for the 22.3 points and 11.8 rebounds he averaged per game, Reed had his contract converted to a full deal midway through the season. This gave reed a spot on the full roster and opened to door for Gary Clark to fill the remaining two-way slot.

There are high hopes for BBall Paul heading into his second year in the NBA as he looks to earn a spot in the rotation. His mobility on defense could be a major asset and the 44.4% he shot from deep in the G-League is extremely intriguing. Getting Paul Reed into the Sixers organization through the use of a two-way contract is a major success and it is exciting to see what he can grow into moving forward.

The Misses:

Considering two-way contracts are somewhat of a shot in the dark, it is no surprise there are a few misses. The Sixers’ first two-way deal was given to Demetrius Jackson in 2017-18 who is currently a member of Joventut Badalona in the Spanish Liga ACB.

Despite averaging 23 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game during his time in the G-League, former second-round pick, Marial Shayok has been unable to crack an NBA rotation and played a total of just 28 minutes in a Sixers’ uniform. The 6’6 guard currently plays for Fenerbahce in the Turkish Basketball Super League.

Last year the Sixers signed Rayjon Tucker to a two-way deal but he has seen similar issues when attempting to crack an NBA roster. Tucker averaged 19.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.1 assists with the Blue Coats last season and also played in 14 games with the Sixers. The Sixers initially agreed to another two-way contract with Rayjon Tucker, but elected to move on and give the spot to Grant Riller in the end.

A familiar name to the Sixers organization, Haywood Highsmith has recently been given another shot with the Sixers. After going undrafted in the 2018 draft, Haysmith stuck with the Blue Coats following a local tryout. After averaging 13.7 points per game in his first season at Delaware, Highsmith agreed to a two-way deal with the Sixers for the 2019 season. The 24-year-old has spent time overseas since then but has returned to the Sixers organization on an Exhibit 10 deal. This is similar to a two-way deal and can be converted to this by the Sixers if a spot opens up.

Sixers Current Two-Way Contracts:

Heading into this season, the Sixers have Aaron Henry and Grant Riller under contract for two-way deals. Aaron Henry agreed to a deal after going undrafted this season and the Sixers leaped at the opportunity to add Grant Riller once he became available after spending time with the Hornets. Each player is an exciting young prospect with the potential to grow into a solid rotational piece with the Sixers moving forward. For more on what to expect from them check out this article.

It is exciting that the Sixers have found an effective way to bring talent into the organization through the use of a two-way deal. The Sixers should look to develop guys who could become effective moving forward and using two-way deals as a “role player factory,” would be a major success.

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire