Milwaukee Bucks: Khris Middleton’s shot selection is improving, but still not ideal

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Khris Middleton could help out the Milwaukee Bucks by improving his shot selection for next season.

Khris Middleton is a very good basketball player who has earned his quite lucrative contract with the Milwaukee Bucks thus far, his hamstring injury notwithstanding. Still, there’s a pretty simple way Middleton could be even better next season, and it doesn’t even rely on any sort of skill increase.

This tweak is more about the mental game than anything else. Middleton is a gifted scorer who can get to the rim or nail jump shots, which is great. What’s not great is where a substantial amount of Middleton’s jumpers tend to come from.

No Bucks took more mid-range jumpers than Middleton did this past season, in terms of percentage of overall shots taken. A substantial 17.4 percent of Middleton’s shots came from between 16 feet away from the rim and the three-point arc, and another 18.6 percent of them came from between 10 and 16 feet away from the rim.

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Michael Beasley was second on the team in mid-range percentage, with 17.5 percent of his shots coming from between 16 feet and the arc and 17.0 percent of them coming from between 10 and 16 feet from the basket. No other Bucks took at least 10 percent of their shots from each of those areas.

For Beasley, it’s actually not bad that he take those shots. They’re generally less efficient than most other types of offense for the average player, but Beasley makes 46.4 percent of the 10-16 foot shots and 45.1 percent of the 16-three-point line shots. Only Greg Monroe makes more of his 10-16 foot jumpers, and no rotational Bucks made a better percentage of 16-three-point line shots than Beas did last season.

Middleton, on the other hand, shot 41.9 percent and 43.1 percent from those areas, respectively. Further making those shots bad decisions is the fact that Middleton is a gifted three-point shooter, who even in an injury-riddled season made 43.3 percent of his threes.

Turning some of those long twos into three-pointers would create more points per possession for Middleton and the Bucks offense. His shot selection in the postseason was noticeably poor, with Middleton taking more shots from between 10 feet away from the rim and the arc (53.9 percent of his total) than shots at the rim and shots beyond the arc combined.

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Hopefully that postseason performance was more due to Middleton’s illness than his mindset, as he actually took less long twos in the 2016-17 regular season than he did the year before. Working on cutting more of those out and replacing them with threes and drives to the rim will do a lot for Middleton’s offensive efficiency, which isn’t exactly terrible as is.

It’s impossible — and not smart — to entirely cut down on those. Wide open jump shots are almost always efficient, and sometimes with the shot clock winding down you just get what you get.

Still, it’s little tweaks like that that can help transform a good team into a great one. Who knew at the time that sliding Draymond Green to the center position would help the Golden State Warriors so much, or that, more locally, Giannis Antetokounmpo could function as a primary ball-handler at times?

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Some may have thought both things, but neither could be known until they happened. Another tweak, having Middleton take more Moreyball-friendly shots, could also have a noticable impact on the Milwaukee Bucks going forward, even if it doesn’t result in a 73-win season in Milwaukee.