Bucks’ Middleton bouncing back after month-long slump

Welcome to the 2018-19 edition of the Young Bucks Tracker. Each Thursday we’ll either track the progress of the players who might be of help to the Bucks in the future from the Wisconsin Herd or a current member of the Milwaukee roster. We’ll also give updates on the other young players from the previous week.

This is the 9th edition of the 2018-19 Young Bucks Tracker.

SPOTLIGHT ON …

Forward Khris Middleton

Maybe, just maybe, Middleton is snapping out of his slump.

For a month — from Nov. 26-Dec. 25 — Middleton just wasn’t himself. He opened the season playing well enough, averaging 19.2 points over Milwaukee’s first 19 games while shooting 46.6 percent from the field (42.6 from 3-point land) and 91.3 percent from the line. But then over the next month he played 12 games and saw his average dip to 14.0 points as he shot just 32.6 percent from the field, 27.9 percent from 3 and 77.8 percent from the line.

In three games this past week, though, Middleton showed a lot of signs of his old self.

Averaging 15.3 shots per game, Middleton had a 65.2 field-goal percentage, tops on the team last week among regular members of the rotation. He also made 6-of-13 3-point attempts (although small caveat that this including one game when he made 4 of 6) and hit 10 of 11 free-throw attempts.

All that led him to average 25.3 points per game, have a 74.7 true shooting percentage, 71.7 effective field-goal percentage and a sky-high 140 offensive rating.

In that poor month-long stretch, Middleton topped 20 points just twice — with games of 22 and 21 — and was coming off a season-low six points on Christmas Day.

But last week he had 25 — his most since Nov. 14 — on Dec. 27 vs. the New York Knicks, 29 — his second-highest output of the season — on Dec. 29 against Brooklyn and 22 on New Year’s Day vs. Detroit.

Perhaps not coincidentally, all three games were won by the Bucks by 14 or more points.

Despite his recent slump, Middleton is still having a pretty good season. He’s averaging 17.9 points, 5.8 rebounds (which would be a career high) and 4.0 assists and is shooting 43.2 percent from the field, 37.4 percent from 3 (he was at 35.9 percent last season) and 87.1 percent from the line.

If the last week is any indication, those numbers will continue to rise.

BUCKSHOTS

— This week in Giannis Antetokounmpo: Had 31 points in each of Milwaukee’s first two games, making it three straight games with 30+ points (the fourth time he’s had a streak that long); recorded his 24th double-double of the season with a 31-point, 14-rebound effort against the Knicks and then his 3rd triple-double (and 12th of his career) with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against the Nets. Oh, then he created a poster vs. the Pistons.

D.J. Wilson secured his first double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds against the Knicks. He also had a box score +/0 of plus-17 and was a plus-31 for the week.

Malcolm Brogdon averaged 15.3 points on 56.3 percent shooting, including making 6 of 12 3-point attempts.

— In G League action, Donte DiVincenzo had 17 points on 7-of-17 shooting with six rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block for Wisconsin on Dec. 28 while Christian Wood continued his domination of that league, posting 30 points on 10-of-17 shooting with 14 rebounds for the Herd on Dec. 29. Wood leads the G League with a 28.6 scoring average and is fourth in rebounds at 12.6 per game.