Over the next few weeks, we’ll be profiling every player currently on the Sixers’ roster ahead of training camp, which begins on Sept. 27.
Age: 25 (He’ll turn 26 before season begins)
Contract Status: $1.9 million for 2022-23; unrestricted free agent ahead of 2023-24 season
After averaging a career high in points and minutes per game in the 2020-21 season, the 2021-22 campaign was very stop and start for Shake Milton. A nagging ankle injury caused him to miss the start of the season. He missed some games during the Omnicron outbreak last winter, and missed another month of action with a back injury after he took a nasty spill in a January game against the Celtics.
Because of the emergence of Tyrese Maxey and the acquisition of James Harden, Milton had much more of an off-ball role in the 2021-22 season than he has had in prior years. Towards the end of last season, including the playoffs, Milton become more of a 3-and-D player than a secondary ball handler. He averaged 8.2 points per game and shot 32.3% percent from three last season. So as Milton looks to get back on track, how does he fit in to the 2022-23 Sixers?
The key for Milton this year is if he is used in the role he saw during the 2020-21 season, as a backup point guard or in more of a wing role that he took on late last season. While Milton got off to a hot start anchoring the second unit, he was overexposed, being asked to do too much until his production stalled out.
While their needs on the wing aren’t as dire as last season, it is likely Milton will be asked to fill a similar role this season. Just the fact that Milton was a warm body last season made him a viable option next to the aging Danny Green and the offensively challenged Matisse Thybulle.
With the additions of De’Anthony Melton, Danuel House and P.J. Tucker, it should take more than that to stay in the wing rotation this season. Something that would go a long way for Milton is finding his three-point shot again.
He shot a scorching 43 percent from downtown in the bizarre 2019-20 season, but that percentage dropped to 35 percent the following year and was down to 32.3 percent last year. While he has always had a line drive-looking jumper, it looks like Milton has done a lot of tinkering to his form in the past year or so.
With a Harden-Maxey backcourt, Milton will likely be used in a primarily off-ball role again. It can certainly help to have a wing like Milton who is also capable of putting the ball on the floor.
If he is able to get back to around league average, he can definitely be a helpful piece of this Sixers team going forward. At 6-foot-6, he has the ideal length and is athletic enough to be a respectable 3-and-D player. If he is able to find his three-point stroke again, the Sixers will just be that much deeper at the guard position.