When the Milwaukee Bucks acquired Khris Middleton from the Detroit Pistons in the summer of 2013, it was overshadowed by the fact that the deal was centered around Brandon Jennings and Brandon Knight.
Fast forward to now, and the Bucks are the winners of that trade by an overwhelming margin.
Selected by the Pistons with the 39th pick in the 2012 draft, there was not a lot of film available on the mystery man. However, over the years, Khris Middleton has put the time into the gym and has been rewarded by playing the best basketball of his career.
Khris Middleton attended Porter-Gaud in Charleston, South Carolina from 8th-12th grade and attributes most of his success on/off the floor to the school. He was even named the South Carolina Player of the Year and was a McDonald’s All-American nominee.
In his first season in Milwaukee, he was a terrific surprise for the Bucks who went 15-67 that season. In a year filled mostly with downs, Khris Middleton was certainly one of the only bright spots. He averaged 12.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1 steal per game in his first season in a Milwaukee Bucks uniform. He started 64 of 82 games. More impressive, however, was how great Middleton could shoot a basketball. His shot is extremely flat, but the release is pure. He ended up shooting 44% from the floor and a terrific 41.4% from three on 3 attempts per game. The player who was the afterthought in the Brandon Jennings trade was starting to grab the attention of Bucks fans.
In his second season with the Bucks, Khris Middleton improved on both ends of the floor. He upped his scoring to a solid 13.4 points per game and proved that his shooting stroke isn’t a fluke. He made a robust 46.7% of his shots, and again, shot a reliable 40.7% from downtown. At 6’8″ with a 7’0″ wingspan, Middleton was starting to become a pest on the defensive end of the floor. He was Milwaukee’s “glue-guy” and racked up 1.5 steals per game in 30 minutes per game. His improved play rewarded him with an extension of 5-years for $70-million. That contract looks like a real bargain in today’s NBA.
The third season for Khris in Milwaukee was another consistent year of good basketball. Although the Bucks failed to make the playoffs, it was becoming clearer and clearer that Middleton is one of Milwaukee’s cornerstone. He averaged a then career-high 18.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Again, Khris Middleton was “Mr. Reliable” from the floor as he hit 44.4% of his shots and 39.6% of his threes. He played very well alongside the burgeoning superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the two had great chemistry on the floor. He was also one of the NBA’s most durable players, he started and played in 79 games that year while playing 36.1 minutes per game.
Before the beginning of a much-anticipated 2016-17 Bucks season, Khris Middleton tore his hamstring clean off the bone in September. Milwaukee lost their anchor for approximately 6th months and the Bucks suffered. They looked like a completely different team without Middleton, and it showed Bucks fans just how valuable he is.
Middleton made his much-anticipated 2016 debut in February with the Bucks already 6-games under the .500 mark. His presence was much needed for the Bucks, and even though they lost the prized athletic forward that is Jabari Parker, Middleton propelled the Bucks to the finish line.
He helped Milwaukee, who looked dead in the water to a playoff appearance as a 6th seed. After returning in February, Middleton averaged 14.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.4 steals in only 29 games. He was especially outstanding from three-point range, shooting a lights-out 43.3%. Needless to say, if the Bucks had him healthy for the whole season, they would’ve been a much different team.
This season, Khris Middleton has really embraced the role of being a leader on this Bucks’ team. He is playing the best basketball of his life right now, averaging 20.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per contest. He is shooting 46.3% from the field, but his three-point shooting is down at 34.1%. This has arguably been Middleton’s worst three-point shooting season of his career, but we should fully expect his percentages to revert to his career mark of 39.2%.
More in-depth statistics back-up the claim that Khris Middleton is one of the NBA’s most consistent players. Last season, he ranked 20th in real plus-minus and finished 15th in offensive RPM ahead of the likes of Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson and John Wall. This season, the Bucks have a solid ORtg of 111.6 with Middleton on the floor, but when he goes to the bench the Bucks have trouble scoring. That ORtg dips to 103.1 when he is sitting.
His impact is felt in more ways than one, especially in his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. In November, Middleton made a five-year pledge for $1 million to support scholarships at his former high school, Porter-Gaud. The plan is to increase diversity at the school, and reward scholarships to high achieving underprivileged and minority students. He also hosts his annual Khris Middleton Skills Academy with all the proceeds going to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Carolina to help support mentoring programs. It’s great to see him stay true to his roots and maintain an ever-lasting relationship with his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina.
He has also been very active within the Milwaukee community, as well. Middleton is a frequent visitor at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and even comes with his fellow Bucks’ teammates with presents for the holidays.
Throughout his tenure in Milwaukee, Khris Middleton has always gone about his business in a professional manner. It looks like the Bucks may have hit the jackpot in a trade where Middleton was thought to be a throw-in.