The Milwaukee Bucks still miss Jabari Parker, but they’ve gotten a huge contributor back in Khris Middleton, who has been filling it up since returning from his injury.
Middleton is a versatile two-way player that fits in perfectly with the length and size of this young Milwaukee Bucks squad. He has played in 18 games this season after having surgery on a torn hamstring in September, as initially reported by the Vertical’s Shams Charania. Since his return to the Deer, he’s picked up right where he left off from last season.
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He’s a prototypical wing for today’s NBA, as he can score in a multitude of ways for the Bucks. He led them in that department last year with 18.2 per game (per Basketball-Reference), and he’s been more efficient this season since coming back last month. His effective field goal rate is the highest of his career at 56.2 percent (granted it’s a small sample size), but you can’t argue the facts. The dude looks re-energized, and the Bucks are simply more dangerous when he’s in the lineup.
Middleton’s putting 15.6 points while only playing 28.7 minutes per game this season. The 6-8 swingman is shooting the three ball at a career-best 48.1 percent (per NBA.com), and he’s also had a player efficiency rating of 18.1 (per Basketball-Reference). Once again, it’s only been through 18 games of action. Nonetheless, Middleton makes this team so much better at both ends.
Middleton is a great complement to the rising star that is Giannis Antetokounmpo because Giannis is still not a jump shooter and they cannot rely on him to get buckets consistently down the stretch of games.
That’s where Middleton comes in. He has the full array of shots to get it done in big moments for this young team that is devoid of jump shooters. He’s great in operating at the mid-range pull-up from 10-16 feet, where he’s a career 45.7 percent shooter. He was huge in the Bucks 93-90 W over the Portland Trail Blazers yesterday, with 26 points and was three-for-three from deep.
The Bucks are 23rd in the league in three-pointers made per game (per teamrankings.com), but they are more capable with this guy in there. He helps floor spacing for the Greek Freak and gives guards Matthew Dellavedova and Malcolm Brogdon a nice option to go to in the mid-post. In addition, he is valuable on the defensive end with his length on the perimeter.
He has the same defensive rating as Antetokounmpo, who has emerged as one of the great defensive forces in the league. Although he doesn’t make the splash blocks and steals as Giannis does, Middleton is great at getting those long arms in passing lanes and starting run-outs for easy buckets.
For a young team that is only 18th in the league in scoring (per teamrankings.com), getting out in transition is huge. Middleton is an all-around player that doesn’t get the national attention, but his play for this team does not go unnoticed. His net rating is 4.5 in these 18 games, and his plus/minus net is +5.1, so it’s clear that he’s invaluable to the Bucks.
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