Milwaukee Bucks swingman Khris Middleton is expecting to return to NBA action on Wednesday against the Miami Heat.
This report came straight from the horse’s mouth, with Middleton going on-air and announcing it during the Bucks’ telecast on Friday. During an offseason workout in September, Middleton suffered a gruesome hamstring injury that caused the muscle to be pulled off the bone entirely after he slipped on a wet spot on the court.
Initially, it was reported that Middleton would miss a nice chunk of the season. And he has. In his five-month absence, the Bucks have won 21 of their 49 games and sit at 11th overall in the Eastern Conference, and they could fall further since the Miami Heat are on such a tear. Milwaukee has dropped 10 of their last 11 games, and all but three of those losses have come by five points or less.
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Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker are the only two players who regularly produce for Milwaukee, and their career seasons are being watered down by the team’s immense struggles.
Middleton isn’t an All-Star caliber player yet, but 2015-16 was his best season as a pro, and he was poised to breakout before his injury. In 79 contests last year, he averaged 18.2 points, 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals while being lights-out from the three-point line with a 39.6 percent clip. A healthy Middleton gives Milwaukee a third 20-point threat who can space the floor — something that makes the Bucks a bit more deadly.
With him out there, everything opens up for Giannis and Parker, and he isn’t a shabby defender either. By no means does Middleton bring the clamps out, but he’s got length and good enough athleticism to challenge perimeter players. Moreover, Milwaukee’s defense has been bad all year, and they’re in the bottom ten for points allowed per 100 possessions, per Basketball-Reference.com; the Bucks are right at the league average in points per game allowed with 105 a night, but they don’t run an uptempo style.
When healthy, Middleton — who’s in the second year of a five-year deal — doesn’t make Milwaukee a playoff team by himself, but he does bring them a step closer.
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