Philadelphia 76ers exercise team option on Shake Milton

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)

Shake Milton is returning to the Philadelphia 76ers after the team picked up his $1.9 million team option for 2022-23. The former second-round pick returns to Philadelphia following an underwhelming 2021-22 performance plagued by injuries and misuse. Milton came to the 76ers as a second-round guard out of SMU. Drafted 54th overall and 24th in the second round, Shake is a testament to the Sixers finding quality players late in the draft.

Milton was at one point seen as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, even going as far as receiving a vote for Sixth Man of the Year in 2020-2021. That season was his best statistical season by far. He averaged 13.0 points per game on 45.0/35.0/83.0 percent shooting splits while also contributing 3.1 assists per game, all only in 23.2 minutes per game. This past season, however, was a different story than the triumphant arrival he had last season.

For last season, Milton appeared to regress in every major statistical category. His points fell from 13.0 to 8.2. His assists fell from 3.1 to 2.5. Instead of shooting 45% from the field and 35% from three, Milton shot 42.9% from the field and 32.3% from three. While the lower numbers seem to indicate regression and may have even caused the 76ers to debate not picking up his extremely cheap option, it’s important to recognize the context for Milton’s down year.

The 2021-2022 season started late for Milton, as he was recovering from an ankle roll before the season. By the time he got back, it was clear Milton was still working through his injury. When he did come back, however, he looked solid. Then he was put in Health and Safety Protocols and had to miss more time.

Upon returning for the second time, Milton suffered a back contusion and had to miss even more time. Given the amount of time he missed, it was fair to expect a down year for the combo guard.

Beyond just injuries, Milton was often misused in game planning. Doc was forced to use Shake Milton as his backup point guard thanks to Ben Simmons sitting out and Tyrese Maxey’s ascension into the starting lineup. Milton is never meant to be a point guard, at least not for long spans of time. Milton is at his best when he can either play off the ball on offense or create his own shot. He is a shoot-first kind of player, which is exactly what the bench needs. Thanks to the arrival of De’Anthony Melton, Shake Milton finally has another guard on the bench to take the reigns in setting up the offense.

Shake Milton’s return to the 76ers comes at an extremely low price of $1.9 million. Beyond that, the value that Milton brings to the 76ers as one of their most consistent bench pieces for the past 3 years is immeasurable. Daryl Morey and the 76ers made the right call by bringing him back.