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Khris Middleton Video Scouting Report

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Apr 11, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton (22) during the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Milwaukee won 119-116. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

In one my prior pieces, I acknowledged that Brandon Knight was the biggest focal point in the sign-and-trade deal that sent Jennings over to the Detroit Pistons. While the focus still remained on Knight during his initial season in Milwaukee, one of the more unheralded players in that deal quietly stood out as perhaps the most positive aspect of the team’s horrendous 2013-14 campaign.

Before his sudden rise up Milwaukee’s tattered depth chart, Middleton was quietly able enter the team’s organization as he was able to hide behind the return of a hometown hero (Caron Butler) or the debut of one of the most promising players in team history (Giannis Antetokounmpo). That positioning inside the team’s epicenter allowed Middleton to quietly make the transition from his role as a relative unknown with Detroit into being in the middle of Milwaukee’s starting rotation during the team’s regular season debut against New York. While the majority of the reasoning behind the move revolved around the team’s lack of depth at his designated position, Middleton was able to quickly rise that plateau with solid performances in training camp and preseason.

As Milwaukee stumbled out of the gate and had their playoff hopes slip away before they were even apparent, Middleton stood out as one of the lone solid figures inside the team’s struggling offense. The vast majority of that solid offensive performance was because of how he was able to consistently dominate from beyond the arc. From that initial game against the Knicks until the season finale, Middleton stood out as one of the league’s more consistent perimeter threats as he hovered around 40% range throughout the season.

While that perimeter steadiness stood throughout the entire season, he was actually able to progress as the campaign wore on. Post All-Star break, Middleton was able to shoot an extremely solid 43% from beyond the arc, which was a pretty noticeable increase from the 39% during the first few months of the season.

Besides his main strength as a perimeter scorer, Middleton was occasionally able to showcase his prowess as an off-ball scoring threat. While the majority of that was done to get open looks from beyond the arc, he still had his fair share of instances where he was able to work his way past his opponent to get a clear path at the rim. Middleton’s able to consistently work his way to the rim because of his clear offensive focus and the high amount of quickness and athleticism that he rarely showcases due to his skills as a perimeter shooter.

Unfortunately, that all-around solid performance has been unable to transition over to his work on the defensive end. While he’s easily able to showcase his athleticism on the offensive end, Middleton is unable to convert that over to his ability to prevent some of the more dominating wing players from getting an open spot around the court. Middleton tends to struggle to get in a good position when he’s matching up against the opposition, which can make it very easy for them to work their way past the Bucks forward. In ISO situations, opponents averaged .9 PPP (points per possession) against Middleton, which showcases the level of consistency that opponents have when they’re working against him.

Those defensive issues continue for Middleton, as he tends to struggle when it comes to working against the pick-and-roll. Similar to the vast majority of players that share Middleton’s inability to defend the pick-and-roll, he’s unable to make that quick decision of whether to work over or under an opponents’ screen. Even when he does make that quick judgment, there are a slew of instances where he just makes the wrong decision on which way to go .

Despite his clear defensive deficiencies, Middleton is still one of the team’s better offensive options. While that may be due to the lack of depth that the team has had, Middleton’s work as a perimeter shooter was one of the main aspects that helped push the team out of the multitude of offensive flunks that they would put themselves into. Even though he was definitely looked at one of the team’s main offensive threats, he was consistently able to create open looks, which is a real challenge for a player that’s not used to that kind of role.

Middleton’s elevated role inside Milwaukee’s rotation should decrease with the addition of Jabari Parker and the continued development of Giannis Antetokounmpo. While he’ll still be looked at as an integral part of the Bucks during the upcoming season, Middleton will probably be looked at to take control of the team’s 2nd unit rather than the starting rotation. That probable transition to the bench will probably pay dividends for Middleton, as he’ll be able to work against more limited defenses, while not be looked at to guard some of the best perimeter players on a night-by-night basis.

Even though his future role with the team will be overshadowed by that aforementioned duo alongside some of the other young prospects (I.e Nate Wolters, Damien Inglis, Nate Wolters, etc) it seems that Middleton will continue to be a vital part of the Bucks organization, as they continue to rebuild their organization.