Bucks’ Middleton showing why he earned that Khash money
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 10th edition of the 2019-20 Bucks Weekly Spotlight
SPOTLIGHT ON …
Forward Khris Middleton
The Bucks gave Middleton a big contract extension this offseason. This past week he demonstrated why.
In Milwaukee’s three games, Middleton averaged 24.7 points per game, including a 30-point effort – his most in any Bucks win this season – in just under 29 minutes at Portland on Jan. 11.
Middleton took 38 shots and made 26 of them, a 68.4% field-goal percentage – the only Bucks player to shoot better than 60% over that three-game span. He made 6 of 8 3-point attempts (75.0%) and was 16-for-19 (84.2%) from the line.
He was 8-for-8 from the charity stripe in his last two games and made all four of his 3-point shots against the Blazers, also grabbing 11 rebounds, which tied his season high.
According to basketball-reference.com, his offensive rating over those three games was an insane 149 while also having a solid defensive rating of 95.
An injury curtailed some of his minutes and caused him to miss time earlier in the season but Middleton has settled back in quite nicely. Actually, he’s done more than settle in.
He’s averaging 28.3 minutes per game – his lowest since his rookie season – but everyone’s minutes are down on the Bucks as they are often blowing out teams and/or head coach Mike Budenholzer rests guys in anticipation of a long playoff run. So, while Middleton’s season averages are good – 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists – they don’t tell the whole story.
To gauge his full impact, let’s take a look at his per-36 averages: 24.5 points – easily the best of his career (previous high was 21.2 last season); 7.3 rebounds – also would be a career high; 4.8 assists – topped only by 5.0 last season.
Beyond the averages, there’s also the percentages – as in shooting percentages.
Middleton is making 48.8% of his field-goal attempts, easily a career best, while converting 40.4% of his 3-point attempts (his best mark since 2016-17) as well as 89.7% from the line, which is 11th-best in the NBA and also would be a career high.
His true shooting percentage is 60.3% — he’s never had higher than a 57.7% — and his Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is 20.9. His previous season high was 17.4 in 2017-18.
Middleton is doing it on both ends of the floor as well. His defensive rating 99.1 (via NBA.com) ranks him 13 in the NBA while his 103.1 ranks (via basketball-refence) puts him at 18th.
Now that’s some Khash Money.
— This week in Giannis: After posting a season-low 13 points at Sacramento (although he did have 10 rebounds and five assists), Antetokounmpo topped 30 points in each of his next two games. Against the Knicks he scored 37 in roughly 21 1/2 minutes. Giannis also was feeling it from long range last week, making 6 of 11 3-point attempts.
— Eric Bledsoe had his first back-to-back games with 20+ points since Nov. 20-21, scoring 24 against the Kings and 29 vs. the Blazers. He made 21 of 37 shots in those two games, including 5 of 9 from 3.
— Donte DiVincenzo continues to impress in his second year. He had 18 points and three steals at Sacramento and 10 pints and three steals at Portland. For the week he made 15 of 29 shots (51.7%), including 7 of 16 3-point attempts. DiVincenzo leads the NBA in defensive rating (via NBA.com) with a 98.4 (he’s third in basketball-reference’s DRTG at 99.4).
— Dragan Bender played for the first time since Dec. 2, seeing a lot of action in Milwaukee’s blowout win over New York. He tallied a season-high 21 minutes in the contest. Bender didn’t score but did have seven rebounds, two assists and a block.