With the season suspended and the prospect of it resuming filled with uncertainty, Milwaukee Bucks All-Star Khris Middleton may just miss out on 50-40-90.
As the Milwaukee Bucks come to terms with the suspension of the NBA season, just like the rest of the league’s teams, there will undoubtedly be some reflection about the various pieces of history that seemed up for grabs for them this season.
Of course, it must be acknowledged that any slice of basketball history comes equipped with triviality in this time of great global uncertainty. But at the same time what is sports but trivial, even at the best of times? In part, that’s probably why we all care so much.
There are multiple Bucks storylines that certainly commanded plenty of attention over the course of the season that remain worth revisiting at this juncture. Perhaps the NBA will miraculously resume in little over 30 days, but there’s a realistic chance that this could be a much more extended hiatus, and that this season may not end up picking back up at all.
If that proves to be the case, Khris Middleton will miss out on taking his place in the record books by the narrowest of margins. Of course, I’m referring to his well-documented run at joining the prestigious 50-40-90 club, when it comes to percentages from the field, three-point range, and the free throw line, respectively.
Middleton has played 55 games, which would normally preclude a player from meeting the statistical minimums for any league leaders stat, but if the schedule was to be reduced and the minimums adjusted accordingly, it seems safe to say he’d have no problem hitting any requirement.
Instead, the problem is a much more simple one. As things stand, Middleton’s shooting splits stand at an agonizing .499/.418/.908. That would leave Middleton just 0.01 percent shy of a 50-40-90 campaign.
From what I can find, only one other player in history has missed out by such a slim margin, with that being Steve Nash in 2006-07 when he finished with 89.9 percent from the charity stripe. Of course, in Nash’s case, he managed to achieve 50-40-90 averages a record four times anyway.
If Middleton is to miss out on the chance to become just the ninth NBA player to join the 50-40-90 club, it will be the equivalent to a fall at the final hurdle that will have cost him.
Since returning from a neck injury and being available for the Bucks’ five most recent games, Middleton slumped to a 4-of-16 shooting effort against the Heat, and a 5-of-19 showing against the Lakers. Additionally, Middleton was a DNP-CD in the Bucks’ final outing before the suspension, as Mike Budenholzer shook things up against the Nuggets in light of multiple injuries.
With a scoring average of 21.1 points per game, not only could Middleton have joined the 50-40-90 club, but he was on track to join only Larry Bird, Dirk Nowitzki, and Stephen Curry in doing so while averaging over 20 points per game.
Considering what it would say for the wider outlook in terms of global health too, let’s hope that the worst case scenarios don’t come to pass and that the Bucks will be back in action sooner than expected, giving Middleton a chance to find 0.01 percent again.