Shake Milton Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Shake Milton was the 79th-ranked prospect in the 2015 high school class[1].
  • Through 19 games this season, the six-foot-six combo guard has averaged 20 points per 40 minutes on 56.6% effective shooting and assisted on 24.9% of Southern Methodist’s scores over his 693 minutes[2].
  • Having logged 2,912 minutes of college ball up until this point, Milton is the sort of player you can project whichever way you want, as there is at least some piece of evidence to support whatever view you have of him.
    • The junior can break down a set defense off the pick-and-roll and create shots for others against a scrambling defense or on pre-arranged reads, while also a threat to spot-up off the ball. He has shown appealing quickness matching up with smaller players one-on-one when engaged and has the length to potentially develop into an asset picking up bigger players on switches down the line.
    • On the other hand, the 21-year-old[3] lacks explosiveness to put pressure on the rim regularly, isn’t yet an elite shot maker or the sort of valuable gunner who can be moved around the floor, has a low assist-to-turnover ratio and rarely translates his elite physical traits into making an actual positive impact on defense.
  • ESPN ranks him 25th in its top 100.

INTERIOR OFFENSE

  • Milton runs some middle pick-and-roll against a set defense late in the shot clock but a lot of his catches come off Iverson cuts on the side of the floor. He subsequently gets a ball-screen attempting to guide him towards the lane.
  • Milton doesn’t have an explosive first step to blow by his man on speed and hasn’t yet developed many dribble moves to shake his defender off balance often. He has a strong preference for going left and his best resource for now is a hesitation move that can be effective at times but rarely results in him just losing his man.
    • More concerning, perhaps, is the fact that Milton hasn’t shown any burst to burn big men on switches.
    • Also yet to develop strength in his thin 205-pound frame[4] to maintain his balance through contact regularly, Milton’s taken just 22.5% of his shots at the rim this season[5], though he’s been successful at earning foul calls, as he’s averaged 5.6 free throws per 40 minutes.
  • When he’s managed to get all the way to the basket, weaving his way through traffic with euro-steps, Milton has flashed a diverse arsenal of finishes. Aided by his seven-foot wingspan[6], he’s shown the ability to overextend and complete reverses among the trees. Milton lacks explosiveness elevating off one foot with possession of the ball, though. He’s also unable to finish through contact at this point of his development.
    • Milton has shot 52.8% at the rim as a junior, after shooting just 56.5% there as a sophomore.
    • He shot 70.4% at the rim as a freshman but 20 of his 38 makes were assisted.
      • Milton can play above the rim as a target for lobs filling the lanes in transition and sneaking behind the defense on backdoor cuts.
    • He’s shown decent touch on floaters, both off jump-stops and on the run, to finish over length from the in-between area.
    • Milton is an adequate passer off dribble penetration, able to make a drop-off or a kick-out pass against the defense collapsing to his drive, but not a particularly special shot creator for others as of now. He’s flashed a wraparound pass to the opposite corner and can toss up lobs on the move but it’s rare to see him sucking in the defense deep into the lane before putting someone in scoring position.

PERIMETER OFFENSE

  • Most of Milton’s assists come with him facing the defense and making passes over the top, aided by his advantageous point of view, or on-pre-arranged reads. He can toss up well timed lobs to wings diving to the rim on baseline cuts and make the skip pass to the big in the pick-and-pop. He’s also flashed some ability to make passes across his body to the opposite end.
    • Milton is more of a robotic passer rather than an instinctive one, which can be fine if you have a well-structured offense (which Southern Methodist reasonably does). But the cost of it manifests itself against teams that have him well scouted and know when to jump the passing lanes[7], as well as in the fact that Milton sometimes passes a split-second too soon, without totally engaging the help, making it easier for the opponent to closeout effectively.
      • He has a 1.95 assist-to-turnover ratio this season and a 2.13 one over his time at Southern Methodist.
    • Milton has attempted to hang dribble or cross his man over into pull-ups but isn’t much of a tough shot maker at this point. His most effective way to shoot off the dribble is a step-back fade-away, which he doesn’t do with deep range yet, as just 10 of his 49 three-point makes have been unassisted this season. Though he struggles to create separation against high level competition, Milton has nailed 45.1% of his 71 two-point jumpers this year, with just 10 of his 32 makes assisted.
    • He is at his most valuable as a spot-up shooter. Milton gets little elevation but fully extends himself for a high release off the catch and has a quick trigger. He’s nailed 42.8% of his 428 three-point shots over his two-and-a-half years at Southern Methodist, at a pace of 6.5 such attempts per 40 minutes this season in particular.
      • Milton has also improved as a foul shooter year over year, going from 72.5% as a freshman through 75.8% as a sophomore to now 82.5% as a senior.
    • He seems to have changed his base a little, looking to bring knees closer together. Perhaps because of this or simply because of an increased need for him to operate on the ball, Milton is taking fewer shots coming off screens, which he did more regularly last season.

DEFENSE

  • Milton looks the part of an impactful defender:
    • When engaged, he can use his quickness to stay in front of smaller players one-on-one;
    • When well positioned, he steps up to the front of the rim in help defense and has proven himself willing to attempt drawing charges;
    • He has the body control to stay balanced closing back to his man after taking a couple of steps inside to help pack the lane;
    • He has exceptional length for someone his size and decent instincts making plays in the passing lanes – averaging 1.7 steals per 40 minutes this season.
  • But he’s not one, for the most part:
    • Milton looks go over ball-screens at the point of attack but rarely gets skinny well enough to navigate the pick cleanly and beat his man to the spot on the other side, playing with the sort of low energy that makes him completely dependent on his big teammate stopping the ball in order to be able to get back in front of his man;
    • Aside from not yet having developed a lot of strength, Milton generally doesn’t play with much toughness and can’t contain dribble penetration. He has lateral quickness to stay in front but only has two or three slides in him and eventually gets lots along the way;
    • He rarely stays in a stance off the ball, making him slow in his reactions, resulting in weak closeouts more often than not;
    • He’s not always attentive to his responsibilities as a help defender rotating inside to pick up the roll man and doesn’t make himself any sort of asset helping protect the rim;
    • Milton has picked up big men on switches a few times and does try to execute in these instances, looking to front the post and putting a body on his man in the glass, but plays with no physicality and isn’t suited to matchup with bruising types;
    • He is just an average rebounder – collecting 12.4% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor this season.

[1] According to ESPN.com

[2] According to sports-reference

[3] DOB: 9/26/1996

[4] According to Southern Methodist’s official listing

[5] According to hoop-math

[6] According to ESPN’s Mike Schmitz

[7] As it happened in the game against Texas Christian, when he had four turnovers

READ MORE: Troy Brown, Jr. | Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara

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