Milwaukee Bucks: Khris Middleton’s improved playmaking has been a gamechanger

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 30: (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 30: (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

Khris Middleton has long stood as an incredibly efficient, well-rounded scorer for the Milwaukee Bucks, but his ability to comfortably orchestrate the team’s offense is another standout quality of his.

When people talk about Khris Middleton‘s impact on the Milwaukee Bucks, it’s primarily about his ability to mesh with superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Middleton has long been familiar with filling in the gaps around Antetokounmpo as his well-rounded scoring and marksmanship from deep balances the attacking prowess for both the reigning Most Valuable Player and, likewise, for point guard Eric Bledsoe.

More from Bucks News

Before his second straight All-Star season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, Middleton took his efficiency to another level this year as he was on pace to enter the 50-40-90 club while averaging a career-high 21.1 points per game in just 30.1 minutes per contest.

While Middleton’s never scored more and at a higher efficiency, the truth is the All-Star swingman’s ability to impact the Bucks comes in all varieties.

Take his ability to lead and just make plays within the Bucks’ offense under head coach Mike Budenholzer.

Middleton’s secondary playmaking has been a reliable quality within the eight-year veteran’s skill set. As his workload and 25.9 usage percentage has never been higher than this season throughout his career, so too has his propensity to make solid, well-timed reads and distribute the ball to others.

By per-36 minute standards, Middleton is averaging 4.9 assists, which is down from the 5 assists he posted during the Bucks’ 60-win season last year. Still, that’s the second best mark in Middleton’s career and just shows that his playmaking didn’t just appear overnight, or in this case coming out of the offseason and his time playing for Team USA during the FIBA World Cup.

What does stand as a career-best mark in this regard for the former Aggie is his 1.99 assist-to-turnover ratio. And per Basketball-Reference, Middleton’s 21 assist percentage is the highest of his NBA career while his 10.8 turnover percentage is tied for the lowest mark since becoming a full-time starter with the Bucks upon his arrival for the 2013-14 season.

It’s perhaps when both Antetokounmpo and Bledsoe are off the floor where Middleton’s leading role and playmaking shines the most. Via, the Bucks post a +16.3 net rating over the 366 minutes when Middleton is without either of the Bucks’ other stars and he assists 31.6 percent of the Bucks scoring plays over that time while compiling a 36.7 usage percentage.

It’s far from a surprise to see Middleton handle the lion’s share of possessions in lineups without either Antetokounmpo and Bledsoe and his capacity to do so is key in Budenholzer being able to stagger his core pieces over the course of a 48-minute game.

Make no mistake, though, Middleton’s interplay with both Antetokounmpo and Bledsoe lifts all three and the team as a whole. And it’s the dangerous pick-and-roll tandem between Middleton and Antetokounmpo that has resulted in 66 of his 225 total assists going to the Greek superstar throughout this 2019-20 campaign.

That has helped the 28-year-old Middleton average a point per possession when used as a pick-and-roll ball handler, a mark that helps him rank in the 86th percentile of players around the league.

Next. Bucks announce Emergency Relief Fund for part-time employees. dark

Middleton has long been accustomed to sitting back in the spotlight in favor of his leading teammates, but his incredibly dynamic game is starting to get the shine it richly deserves.