Milwaukee Bucks: A 2021 New Year’s resolution for each starter

MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 29 (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 29 (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Khris Middleton, Miami Heat: Tyler Herro
MIAMI, FLORIDA – DECEMBER 29 (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Khris Middleton – Consistently be Milwaukee’s second star

Since the Bucks rewarded Khris Middleton with a hefty five-year extension worth $177.5 million in the summer of 2019, the question has loomed whether he can be a second star on a title-winning team. So far, despite Middleton racking up All-Star nominations in consecutive seasons, the answer is no.

Middleton received his share of criticism for this throughout the offseason, and he started the 2020-21 season with something to prove. Throughout the first four games of the season, the forward was arguably playing like he was Milwaukee’s best player, having averaged 26.3 points while shooting north of 50 percent from the field and behind the arc.

It was a sharp start for Khris, but he came back to earth in the Bucks’ second matchup with the Miami Heat on Wednesday as he scored just eight points on 3-of-15 shooting from the floor, including 0-4 from distance. To Middleton’s credit, this was his first blip of the season, but his consistency has been a concern for the Bucks in the past two seasons, and he will need to address that if they are to push for a title.

Giannis Antetokounmpo – Improve subpar free-throw shooting

The biggest criticism surrounding Giannis Antetokounmpo has been his inability to shoot the ball. While everyone wants to see the two-time MVP develop a consistent 3-point shot, improving his free-throw shooting should be the top priority.

Antetokounmpo had a down year from the line last season, having shot just 63.3 percent on 10 attempts per game. This season, although a far smaller sample size, he is off to a worse start as he has shot 62.2 percent on nine attempts per game throughout the team’s first five contests. There is a noticeable difference with Antetokounmpo’s shooting form this season, something he said he tweaked early this offseason.

As of this writing, Giannis is currently tied for fifth on the list of most free throws attempts per contest five games into the 2020-21 season. Wreaking havoc in the lane will earn Antetokounmpo his share of trips to the free-throw line, but 62.2 percent is likely not going to get it done, particularly in a playoff atmosphere.

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Knowing Antetokounmpo and that resilient work ethic he possesses, he is likely in the gym working on his free-throws at this very moment. Still, only time will tell if he can start knocking those shots down regularly.