Khris Middleton showing why he’s the ultimate sidekick to a superstar
When asking casual NBA fans who the two best players on the Milwaukee Bucks are, the answer always seems to be the same. It has to be Jabari and Giannis, right? After the Bucks 2016-17 campaign, it seems most casual NBA fans have been misinformed.
There has always been one player on the Bucks that has flown under the radar. Khris Middleton has been a silent killer for the Bucks the last couple seasons. Mainstream media has seemed to always overlook him. Is it because he doesn’t throw down vicious dunks night in and night out? Possibly. Whatever the reason is, Middleton is due for a breakout season and to emerge onto casual fan’s radar.
This is no jab at Jabari, who is an incredible talent. This is just based off of statistics when swapping himself for Middleton. Coincidentally, Parker went down with his second ACL tear right when Middleton returned.
Middleton’s incredible impact when he returned in early February last season makes it very hard to argue against the guy. Middleton suffered a horrible hamstring tear before the 2016 campaign and returned in early February nowhere near 100%.
After Middleton’s return, the Buck’s posted a 20-11 record and clawed their way into a playoff spot. Which seemed a little out of reach when he returned sitting with a 22-29 record, coming off a loss to the Heat. The Buck’s recorded a red-hot March winning the most games ever in a month(14), since the 95-96 Bulls.
In Middleton’s 29 games last season, the Bucks were better on both sides of the floor. The Buck’s offensive rating while Middleton was on the floor was 111, which would’ve been fourth in the NBA. Their defensive rating was at 105.8, which would’ve been 13th in the NBA. Middleton also led the team with a net rating of plus 5.2 while he was on the floor.
It took Middleton a long time to be back at 100%, so it is a little bit unfair to use his per-game statistics as a basis on how well he played. He averaged about eight minutes less per game than the previous season. Middleton’s per-36 minutes statistics seem to give fans a better look at how he will do next season. Middleton averaged 17.3 points, five rebounds, and four assists per-36 minutes. Middleton also did all of this while shooting 45% from the field and an incredible 43% stint from beyond the arc.
Giannis is the superstar and stat-sheet-stuffer for this Buck’s team. Everybody can agree with that. But every Batman needs a Robin. Middleton seems to be the perfect fit for a Robin-like role. A defender who can guard three different positions. A perimeter player who doesn’t have to dominate the ball in order to be effective. But on the contrary, if you need him to create his own shot off the dribble, or in the high post, he is more than capable.
There couldn’t be a better compliment to a player like Giannis. Middleton can shoot the lights out of the gym and is undoubtedly one of the best shooters in the NBA. Antetokounmpo is ball dominant player who collapses defenses with the best of them. So when the defense collapses on Giannis and he finds an open Middleton, Khris is virtually automatic.
Khris not only spreads the floor to give Giannis more room to operate. But he can also take over as our number-one scoring option if Giannis is in foul trouble, like he seems to be every game. Middleton can also take over duties to guard the opposing team’s best player. Khris rarely turns the ball over and seems to always make the right play offensively. Whether Khris is making the right swing pass, or not forcing a tough contested jump shot.
Antetokounmpo is our superstar, but Middleton is the glue-guy that holds this team together. He is seemingly the perfect counterpart to a star as bright as the young Greek Freak. He takes pressure off of Giannis, while Giannis makes the game easier for all of his teammates. With Jabari out with an ACL injury, be ready to start seeing Middleton take a heavy offensive workload.
As Middleton continues to master his craft, and polish his game year-after-year he is sure to become a standout player and fan favorite. At the fast rate Middleton has been progressing the last couple seasons he seems due to break out from under the radar and have a standout season in 2017-18. Middleton is keen to be the perfect Robin to Antetokounmpo’s Batman. These two superheroes are poised to raise the Bucks over the hump of a first-round exit and onto to a deep playoff-run.