Middleton has chance to join exclusive club with Bucks

Welcome to the 2019-20 edition of the Bucks Weekly Spotlight. Each Thursday we’ll track the progress of the players who are trying to help Milwaukee make a championship run, give updates on other players from the previous week and sometimes take a look at who is lighting it up for the Wisconsin Herd.

This is the 15th edition of the 2019-20 Bucks Weekly Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT ON …

Forward Khris Middleton

It’s not often that an NBA player with a chance to reach the 50-40-90 club is overshadowed on his own team, but that’s just how it is when you play with the reigning MVP.

Milwaukee small forward Khris Middleton is fresh off his second appearance in the NBA All-Star Game and his play on the court has backed up his selection in 2020.

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The 6-foot-7 forward has been an elite shooter so far this season and is on pace to join the esteemed 50-40-90 club, which is reserved for players who make 50% or more of their overall shots, 40% or more from beyond the arc and 90% or more from the free throw line.

Right now, Middleton is shooting 50.8% from the floor, a whopping 43.8% from long range and 90.7% from the charity stripe. Every time Middleton shoots, the ball is more than likely going in the basket, and as a result he is averaging a career-high 21.1 points per game this season.

If Middleton can keep up the pace, he will join a very exclusive group of NBA players to maintain those shooting percentages throughout an entire season.

So far, the feat has only been accomplished by eight players, and ironically one of them was Middleton’s teammate in 2019. The only players to do it are Larry Bird (1987, 88), Mark Price (1989), Reggie Miller (1994), Steve Nash (2006, 08, 09, 10), Dirk Nowitzki (2007), Kevin Durant (2013), Stephen Curry (2016) and Malcolm Brogdon (2019). Nash leads all players with four 50-40-90 seasons.

Even better, Middleton is not just putting up empty stats, he has been the perfect Robin to Giannis Antetokounpo’s Batman and has shined when Giannis has been out or not quite as effective.

In recent games where Giannis was in foul trouble or not at his peak offensively, Middleton has carried the load. When the Bucks picked up a 134-137 OT win over the Washington Wizards on Feb. 24, Giannis had a good game with 22 points and 14 rebounds, but he fouled out in the fourth quarter and Middleton had to take over. That he did, as the Texas A&M product finished with 40 points while shooting 15-for-28 from the floor and gave Milwaukee a late lead in the extra period with a clutch 3-pointer.

The next night in Toronto, Middleton helped knock off the defending champs with 22 points on 50% shooting. Antetokounpo played well in Milwaukee’s 108-97 victory with 19 points, 19 boards and 8 assists, but was 5-for-14, so Middleton made up the slack.

If Middleton can continue this pace, the Bucks will have a legitimate second option in the playoffs, and that should scare any team vying for the NBA championship.

BUCKSHOTS

— This Week in Giannis: The Greek Freak has done a solid job scoring the ball after the NBA All-Star break, but has averaged 26.3 points per game, less than his season average of 29.7. Not to worry, because he has been making it up by improving his season average of 13.7 rebounds per game to 16.5 in the four games after the break.

— Milwaukee point guard Eric Bledsoe has not been known as a 3-point specialist in his NBA career. The 10th-year pro will not completely shake that label in 2020, but in the month of February, Bledsoe has connected on 37.2% of his long-range attempts while shooting 4.3 per game.

— Donte off the bench: After little playing time in his rookie season, Donte DiVincenzo has become entrenched in the Bucks’ second unit. In 22.9 minutes per game, DiVincenzo has contributed an average of 9.1 points and 4.8 rebounds off the bench this season, and managed to score 9.5 points per game in the month of February.