Bucks back to basketball profile: Khris Middleton
With the announcement of the NBA’s 22-team plan to close out the rest of the season, the Milwaukee Bucks are waiting for late July when play restarts in Disney World. It will undoubtably be an odd postseason experience, but if Milwaukee can be at its best in the bubble then it will be tough to beat.
As coach Mike Budenholzer and the Bucks prepare during this hiatus, FOX Sports Wisconsin will analyze each player on the Bucks and what their role might be in the playoffs.
This edition: Khris Middleton
Previously: Brook Lopez
Drafted in the second round in 2012 by Detroit, Middleton got little playing time as a rookie, averaging 6.1 points in 17.6 minutes in 27 games. Traded to the Bucks in the offseason as the lesser-known name in a four-player deal, Middleton quickly found a home in Milwaukee.
Middleton averaged 12.1 points and made 41.4% of his 3-pointers in 2013-14 and increased his scoring average the next two seasons. He’s made the All-Star team each of the last two seasons and was averaging a career-high 21.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game when the season was shut down in March. In his time with the Bucks, Middleton has averaged 16.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 39.4% from 3 and 87.5% at the line.
A thigh contusion caused Middleton to miss some time in November, although he returned early to action than had been expected, seeing limited minutes off the bench for three games before returning to the starting lineup. It took a bit for him to find his groove again but was posting regular games of 20+ points after the start of the new year. Despite playing fewer minutes this season (30.1 per game, his lowest since 2014-15), Middleton is arguably having his best year as a pro.
GAME TO REMEMBER
On Jan. 28, with Giannis Antetokounmpo sitting out, Middleton took over. Middleton poured in a career-high 51 points – just the fifth Bucks player in franchise history to reach the half-century mark – while making 16 of 26 shots (61.5%), 7 of 10 from 3, and all 12 of his free-throw attempts. He also added 10 rebounds and six assists.
— FOX Sports Wisconsin (@fswisconsin) January 29, 2020
WHAT TO EXPECT THIS SUMMER
When Middleton is on his game, his long-range shooting both takes pressure off Antetokounmpo and also helps open up the inside game. His all-around game (we’ve not even mentioned his above-average defense) will as usual keep him in the starting lineup and on the court. If Milwaukee wants to make a long playoff run, Middleton will have to be a key contributor. He’s done it before in the playoffs (see: 2018) and we know he has the confidence to take a big shot late in the game. Antetokounmpo gets the headlines but Middleton taking his game up a notch in the postseason would be huge for the Bucks’ championship chances.