Malik Benjamin “Shake” Milton.
Fast forward to January 2020 and Shake is well and truly in the running for Sixth Man of the Year. Through 11 games, Shake has scored 16.9 points per game in just 26.6 minutes per game. Per 36 minutes, Shake’s averages currently sit at 22.9 PPG with 5 assists. Shake has been ultra aggressive, been able to make tough finishes and get to the free throw line (85% from 5.8 attempts per 36).
It’s one thing to be aggressive, but another to be efficient whilst doing so. Amongst players averaging more than 8 drives per game, Shake ranks 2nd in FG% at 65.3%.
Most spark plug sixth men who average close to 20 points per game are liabilities on defense. Shake has shown serious improvement on the defensive end, averaging 1.6 steals per 36. Reports suggested in the pre-season that Shake put on muscle to help on this end of the floor. These kind of off-season reports rarely result in real on court improvements. This however was no lie, with this clear improved strength Shake is now capable of using his length to be a positive on this end of the floor.
RAPTOR (Robust Algorithm (using) Player Tracking (and) On/Off Ratings) is an impressive and widely recognised statistical rating system from FiveThirtyEight. Currently, RAPTOR has Shake ranked the 16th best player IN THE LEAGUE. Much has been made of the Sixers needing a high level perimeter creator, particular in crunch time. Shake may just be it.
Shake Milton this year:
•16.9 points per game
•Team-high 56.9% of his makes are unassisted
•16th in RAPTOR
•28th in EPM
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) January 17, 2021
All of this and Shake is getting paid just $1.7 million this year. There is a genuine debate to be had around Shake now being better than Tobias Harris… Tobias is earning 20 times more!
The best decision of the Elton Brand (and co.) led Front Office was signing Shake to this three year extension worth just under $5 million in July 2019. This places Shake under contract until the end of the 2022-23 season.
From what we’ve seen from Shake so far, nothing suggests his start to the season can’t be sustained and that he’s even hit his peak. As good as he’s looked, there’s still room for improvement – he’s shooting well below his NBA and college career average from three, 32% so far this season. It’s also easy to forget he’s yet to play a full season worth of NBA games, just 71 total. Baller Shake is here to stay.
Whilst we all have a tendency to focus on what (or who) is not going well for this team, we really need to appreciate that the Sixers have THE BEST CONTRACT IN THE NBA.
THANK YOU SHAKE MILTON
Media: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images http://tenor.com/search/funny-thank-you-gifs