Milwaukee Bucks: Expectations for a fully healthy Khris Middleton

MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 27: (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 27: (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Khris Middleton‘s 2016-17 season was hampered by an injury, so what should the expectations be for the 26-year-old coming into this year with the Milwaukee Bucks?

Khris Middleton only played in 29 games for the Milwaukee Bucks last season. However, the Bucks were a much better team when the young forward was on the floor. Milwaukee was 19-10 overall with Middleton in action last season, and he was a key factor in the Bucks’ second half playoff push.

With expectations and excitement for a young Milwaukee team only growing, what should be expected from Middleton?

Two years ago, the Bucks’ forward looked to be one of the most promising young players in the game as he averaged 18.2 points-per-game while averaging nearly two steals per contest as well. During last year’s injury plagued campaign, those averages dipped to 14.7 points and 1.4 steals per game.

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While the Texas A&M product’s stats were down, 29 games is not a very fair sample size. The question for the Buck’s is what to make of Middleton now. Can he be even better than the stellar season he displayed two seasons ago? Are the numbers he showed this past season what we should begin to expect now that he is playing alongside one of the best players in the league in Giannis Antetokounmpo?

A look at Middleton’s game logs and month-by-month stats, via Basketball Reference, gives more clarity on what the Bucks’ star truly provided last season. During March, the last full month of the NBA regular season, Middleton averaged 17.3 points per game which is very similar to his numbers in the 16-17 season.

With the growth of Giannis Antetokounmpo as the team’s clear number one option, scoring may not be where Middleton’s growth shows the most this season. However, 15-20 points each night is a nice second option. The improvement the Bucks’ forward shows in his playmaking skills and ability to spread the floor with his three-point-shot may be the biggest factors in how much he can help the team.

Overall, Middleton is 26, and he should only now be entering his prime years. While he may never be an elite scorer, he can be a very good second option for the Bucks.

Although he had moments of inconsistency having returned from injury, Middleton showed the kind of positive flashes the Bucks would have hoped for. With a full offseason to rest, further recover, and continue to build and rebuild his skills, under his belt, the Charleston native should be even better in the coming season.

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What should be expected and hoped for from Middleton this year, however, is growth in areas other than scoring, such as his shot selection, playmaking abilities, and floor spacing. If he can grow in these areas, the Bucks may go from a team with a lot of potential to an Eastern Conference contender.