What Can The Milwaukee Bucks Expect From Khris Middleton’s Prime?


Let’s talk about Khris Middleton for a moment. A throw-in with the Brandon Knight/Brandon Jennings trade, Middleton quickly took to his role to add additional spacing to the Milwaukee Bucks, and showed a great shooting stroke. An even more improved junior year has had fans in Milwaukee asking just how good could Middleton be though?

Is he the next Ray Allen? A true scorer with a deadly three-point shot? Michael Redd comparisons have floated around as well. But are those fair? What does his prime really look like? Can we look at a second round castoff with a surprising shooting stroke and expect him to be Milwaukee’s next franchise scorer?

I don’t think those are fair comparisons, and the reasoning lies in the difference between a shooter and a scorer.

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A scorer is someone who is not only a good shooter but has a real ability to create his own shot, whether on the perimeter or driving to the rim. A scorer will find a way to get a shot off, and that can be a franchise saving or destroying trait.

On the “best case scenario” end of the spectrum we have prime Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, and Ray Allen; guys guaranteed to get buckets and anchor an offense. On the “worst case” side you have guys like O.J. Mayo, Nick Young, and (Charlotte) Lance Stephenson who turn into volume shooters at best, but are inconsistent offensively and all but non-existent on the defensive side.

A shooter on the other hand doesn’t have the pressure to create shots, but thrives in offensive schemes that create space for spot-up shooting. Guys like Kyle Korver and Mike Miller come to mind. They can focus on taking better shots rather than being the guy who has to get a shot up.

So is Middleton a scorer or a shooter? Looking at his first three years and how his numbers have been affected by an extra two shots per game this year it’s clear that he is on a shooter’s trajectory so far.

Middleton can get to the hoop when he needs to, but where he makes his paycheck is outside shooting, something that Milwaukee desperately needs from him. And that’s a good thing for multiple reasons.

It’s understandable for him to feel pressure to get up more shots and be a bigger part of the offense with his new contract, but when he’s valuable to the Bucks is when he’s working in the offensive system for a shot when Giannis or Jabari can’t create.

Middleton shouldn’t have to be more than the third or fourth option (after Monroe) in the starting unit, and that’s perfectly fine. But maybe the best part of looking at Middleton as a shooter instead of a scorer is the comparisons we can make in his game and then how we can look at his potential prime years.

Apr 16, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver (26) and Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton (22) reach for the loose ball during the first quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

I mention guys like Kyle Korver and Mike Miller because they not only have had productive careers, but have continued to be productive well into their 30s. Mike Miller started to fall off after his eighth season, but Korver has been steadily producing for 12 seasons with no real drop off.

Because Middleton’s offense isn’t overy athletic, there’s no reason to assume he would have much of a drop off either. That means we can look forward to a long career from him as long as he stays healthy and motivated. But one thing that Middleton has over both Korver and Miller is his defense, which is what makes him such a dangerous two-way player.

Middleton is only 24. So he will probably be a few years into this contract before we see his best basketball, and barring injuries should be producing well past that. His most valuable asset to this team is his shooting efficiency, which should only increase with experience. As he continues to get more minutes and build chemistry with the other Bucks in Kidd’s offense, he will only become a greater offensive threat.

There are a lot of things to be excited about with the Milwaukee Bucks, not the least of which is the emergence of Middleton seemingly out of nowhere. And as good as Middleton has looked as he’s started to emerge in Milwaukee, the best part is that he’s probably just getting started.