After Giannis Antetokounmpo became an All-Star in 2017, fans have been wondering if another Bucks player could join Giannis in earning the distinction. Prior to last year, it seemed like Jabari Parker’s talent and pedigree would make him the next Buck to earn All-Star status. Now it’s clear that Khris Middleton has the best shot.
So far this season Khris has been excellent, shooting a lights-out 54.9 percent from three (good for sixth in the NBA) while averaging 20.7 points through the first six games of the season. It hasn’t just been his shooting either. Middleton has looked like an alpha dog, taking control of the offense and making athletic plays. Against the Knicks, he had multiple plays where he beat his man and drove his way to the basket for easy points. In Coach Budenholzer’s pace and space offense, Khris is really getting to show off his athleticism and ball-handling; skills that are opening up shots for himself and his teammates.
A look at the Eastern Conference only provides more optimism. Last season, ten frontcourt players in the East were ahead of Middleton in All-Star voting. Among those are LeBron James (now in the West), Kristaps Porzingis and Kevin Love (both currently injured and on terrible teams) and Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, Andre Drummond, Enes Kanter and Dwight Howard – a group of players whose roles may limit their ability to produce at the same level as Khris Middleton. We’re already seeing this, as Middleton ranks fifth among Eastern frontcourt players in points per game, behind Giannis, Joel Embiid and conference newcomers Kawhi Leonard and Blake Griffin.
Going forward, Khris’ All-Star campaign will hinge on two things: continuing to produce at a high level in the Bucks offense and more wins. The production doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon based on his performance in Monday’s win against Toronto. Middleton commanded respect from Toronto’s defense throughout the game, providing opportunities for others while collecting eight assists with his playmaking. There’s still room for improvement though, as 14 points without Giannis playing will always be disappointing. The win may be most important though. While Khris looks like an All-Star now, it will be easy for voters to overlook him if the Bucks fall to seventh or eighth in the East. However, if the Bucks remain a top three team in the conference, people will have to start paying attention to what Middleton is doing. That could mean his first trip to the All-Star Game.