Milwaukee Bucks: Can Khris Middleton Improve Volume And Efficiency Again?

Feb 13, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton competes in the three-point contest during the NBA All Star Saturday Night at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 13, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton competes in the three-point contest during the NBA All Star Saturday Night at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

Khris Middleton has proven himself to be a top class shooter through his first four seasons in the NBA, but can the Milwaukee Bucks’ swingman improve even further?

As the Milwaukee Bucks continue in their attempts to own whatever their future might be, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker will understandably command a lot of attention.

Considering the makeup of the team’s roster and the flaws of those two potential young stars, there’s one man who is equally important though.

Having come across to Milwaukee as little more than a throwaway in the Brandon Jennings/Brandon Knight deal, Khris Middleton has excelled while making himself a pivotal piece of the Bucks’ bright future.

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For as much as Middleton remains underrated as an all-round player who can contribute in a number of different ways on both ends of the floor, there’s no part of his game more valuable to the Bucks than his shooting ability.

Middleton has already proven himself to be one of the league’s most efficient three-point shooters, but can he get even better in the coming seasons? First of all, let’s take stock of what he has done so far.

Through four years of his NBA career, Middleton averages exactly 40 percent from three-point range having taken 964 three-point attempts to date, and averaging 13.6 points per game.

Those are impressive numbers, but they require a little bit more context to realize just how impressive. Using Middleton’s numbers as a baseline, I took a look at which other players in the three-point era have managed to match or surpass those totals and the list was a short one.

Stephen Curry3880144310441581426597744941.465.476.446.548.901.58619.224.7
Michael Redd30389801006394224262483797.457.481.405.522.838.56416.022.1
Ben Gordon46151434913913247407655673.432.439.416.497.858.54818.021.6
Klay Thompson448118749637192961625445341.443.461.418.531.846.55817.521.5
Khris Middleton30069641009710351544273644.449.473.400.514.873.55413.616.4
Allan Houston38061321827693197616124583.439.458.403.509.825.54814.414.4

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/25/2016.

With only five other men having previously managed to match that impressive mix of efficiency, volume and scoring output, Middleton is breathing rarefied shooting air.

There’s no shortage of names that will jump off the page at Bucks fans in that list either.

The Splash Brothers are considered to be among the very best shooters in the NBA today and as such, it’s unsurprising that both Curry and Thompson clear Middleton’s marks with relative ease.

For those who have been long-time fans of the Bucks, they’ll note the presence of another Bucks shooting guard who used to wear no. 22 on the back of his jersey also though.

Michael Redd was the leading light for Bucks teams throughout the mid-to-late 00’s, and the idea that Middleton could become something similar, while also having the talent of Parker and Antetokounmpo for company, represents a tantalizing prospect.

As a group, how did those other five players fare in their fifth season in the league?

Curry and Thompson stand out as the most outstanding examples with both players kicking on to make All-Star appearances in year five, a first for Curry and a second for Thompson, with both men keeping their long range shooting percentage over 40 too.

Ben Gordon was another who managed to improve his scoring and his efficiency in year five, generally maintaining his shooting percentages throughout his entire career, even when production fell off otherwise.

For Redd’s fifth year his scoring output increased, but his efficiency from deep fell comfortably below the above-40 percent marks he held in his second and third seasons.

Completing the set, Houston’s scoring increased in his fifth season, and although his three-point percentage fell below 40, it would climb back to that level in the seasons that followed.

Simplifying Middleton’s game to just shooting is undoubtedly doing him a disservice, but it’s one of his greatest strengths and the attribute that his team relies most on him for.

The players who’ve put together a start to their NBA careers that has been comparable to Middleton’s have generally improved as scorers at the point the Bucks shooting guard is now approaching. With Middleton trending upwards in that department up until now, that seems like something which could certainly transpire for him in 2016-17 too.

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The rarer jump forward comes in terms of efficiency, and if Middleton can improve upon his career 40 percent mark up to this point, that could be what makes him truly special.