Philadelphia 76ers: Why exactly did Shake Milton fall out of the rotation?

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

After going off for a career-high 16 points in the first half against the Hawks, one has to wonder why Shake Milton fell out of the Philadelphia 76ers’ rotation.

When Shake Milton made his first start of the season for the Philadelphia 76ers in a prime-time, nationally televised contest against the Los Angeles Lakers, it turned a lot of heads.

Sure, somebody had to take Josh Richardson‘s place in the starting five, but many assumed that Furkan Korkmaz would slot in between Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle to start the contest, not a player who’d only appeared in two games to that point in 2020.

Fast-forward three games into the future, and one has to wonder how Milton managed to stay on the bench as long as he did.

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Over Milton’s four-game stretch with 20 or more minutes of playing time, the second-year guard has scored nine, seven, 11, and a career-high 27 in an otherwise unremarkable loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Not only that, but Milton has been lights out from beyond the arc, shooting 54.5 percent from the field, and 50 percent from 3 point range over the four-game stretch.

And maybe most surprisingly of all, Milton isn’t even being asked to do that much on the offensive end of the court.

Despite playing the point at SMU for three college seasons, Milton has exclusively earned minutes at the two spot so far this season. While that might be for the best, as he wasn’t particularly impressive running the point with the Summer League Sixers, Milton does have the potential to add some much-needed secondary playmaking/shot creation a la the player he replaced, J Rich.

Just for context, Milton has more assists over the last four games than in his previous 11 contests combined, highlighting a player just as willing to facilitate a scoring opportunity as he is to take advantage of one.

Who knows, maybe when the 76ers return to full strength, Brett Brown could bust out a brand new set where Milton and Richardson share the load as co-lead guard; yet another super-sized set where the shortest player on the court measures in at 6-foot-5.

If Milton can continue to play, and play well once he returns to a reserve role, the Sixers may have found yet another intriguing bench option to soak up minutes and hit open shots on the wing.

Heck, if Milton continues to play like he did against the Hawks, dishing dimes, driving to the hoop, and hitting 3s at a 55 percent clip, he could be in line for an even more pronounced role.

Come on Zhaire Smith, pick a number already. dark. Next

While the Philadelphia 76ers are still very much trying to win games and move up in the crowded Eastern Conference standings, the team is also actively testing players to see who deserves a spot in their playoff rotation, where Brett Brown’s 10-ish man rotation will shrink to seven, maybe eight. If Shake Milton can continue to provide buckets and secondary playmaking as a reserve combo guard, he very well may join Furkan Korkmaz and Matisse Thybulle as a viable postseason option coming off the bench.