Khris Middleton isn’t only one of the Milwaukee Bucks best players, but one of their most reliable when it matters most too.
Currently sitting at third worst in the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks season has been disappointing for once hopeful fans. Looking at things in a more positive light, it has become obvious in recent weeks that some preseason predictions could yet hold true though. Khris Middleton is becoming a great scorer in the NBA, and he has the potential to be an All-Star too.
The Bucks aren’t short on problems. Greg Monroe has brought points and rebounds from down low as expected, yet he has contributed to the suspect defense that many also predicted last summer. In spite of problems on the defensive end, there are bright spots on offense. None more so than Middleton becoming that go-to guy who the Bucks needed and every team seeks.
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Middleton is averaging 24.1 points per game and he’s shooting 49.7 percent from the field in his last 10 games. The ball was in his hands coming down the stretch in the fourth quarter and overtime during their win against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night and he responded with 26 points on 47.8 percent shooting from the field.
His comments after that game highlight that he’s not only becoming the main man in Milwaukee, but also that he believes he is up to the challenge.
As a close follower of the Milwaukee Bucks, even I wouldn’t have told you a year ago that I thought Middleton would become the guy in the fourth quarter. He was quiet and didn’t play much at all during his first season in Milwaukee, but head coach Jason Kidd believed in him as a leader. The organization proved their faith when they rewarded him with a $70 million contract over the summer.
I’m not going to dive too deep into his stats as Alex Boeder, writer at Bucks.com, already did so very nicely in an excellent piece just a few days ago. What I’m interested in is Middleton’s role.
Some might argue and say Greg Monroe was brought in as a free agent to be the team’s leading scorer. He was certainly brought in to score points, but then he wasn’t acquired in order to shoot jumpers.
Michael Carter-Williams‘ recent play is arguably enough for him to have greater opportunities with the ball in his hands, but in spite of hitting a huge three-point basket to give the Bucks the decisive lead in their overtime win against Atlanta, he proved early on in that game he can still be a liability when it comes to protecting the ball and making decisions.
I said earlier in the fall that Middleton could be Mr. Clutch for the Bucks this season, and that has certainly been the case in close wins lately. Against the Dallas Mavericks he hit the game winner off the glass, and he hit a tough fade-away jumper late in the game in the face of Jimmy Butler on Tuesday in their win over the Chicago Bulls.
Even though Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker are still the obvious cornerstone youngsters of this Milwaukee Bucks squad, Middleton is currently the best player of the starting five. I understand how that sounds too.
Many had expected Giannis and Jabari to be the players leading Milwaukee forward this season, but Middleton has proven that the base of his game is a more concrete one at present, than the potential on which those two youngsters are hoping to fulfil. As a 21-year-0ld and a 20-year-old respectively, both of these two have plenty of time to grow into talented and mature NBA players.
The youngsters have continued to get better, but Middleton has been the most consistent of them all. Whether they make a push for the No. 8 seed or not in the more talented than normal Eastern Conference, the rest of the season will be exciting to watch. One thing that we can count on is that Khris Middleton will stay clutch.