Milwaukee Bucks: How Khris Middleton finally got his respect on NBA 2K22

Jul 20, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 20, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Khris Middleton’s eight years with the Milwaukee Bucks have been a wild ride, to say the least.

From being on the worst team in the National Basketball Association with a brutal 15-67 record during the 2013-14 season to winning the championship in 2021, this franchise has seen both the highs and the lows over the years. That same sentiment goes for Middleton on an individual level, as he has been there through thick and thin. From having two consecutive All-Star seasons only to flame out in the postseason, things had been complicated for the forward leading up to this year as to where fans and media should rank him amongst the best players.

After an eventful 2020-21 campaign that saw the Bucks snap their 50-year title drought, it seems like Middleton is finally getting his respect. If you need proof, look no further than NBA 2K22, the best-selling video game. Middleton is rated 88 overall on the game, the highest he has ever been in his career. That mark also has him ranked as the fourth-best small forward in the NBA, trailing only LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Jimmy Butler. Some will argue that Middleton should be ranked higher than Butler following the playoff run that the two had, but that is a conversation for another time. Being mentioned just behind these three is certainly an achievement.

While the game has certainly been known to stir controversy with its ratings, it is welcoming to see them give Middleton his props.

Khris Middleton earned his 88 overall NBA 2K22 rating after a sensational title run with the Milwaukee Bucks

Despite not being named an All-Star for the first time in the last three seasons, Middleton did have a solid 2020-21 regular season. The forward averaged 20.4 points on .476/.414/.898 splits, six rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Numbers like that are undeniably compelling, but it would not matter unless he could translate it into the playoffs. Most of the disrespect that was directed toward Middleton over the years has come due to his postseason shortcomings, and he would have to rewrite them this time around.

Ultimately, he did just that. Across 23 games, Middleton averaged 23.6 points on a .438/.343/.887 slash line, 7.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. While he undeniably had his battles with consistency on the offensive end, he continuously stepped up when it mattered most as he proved to be the ultimate closer to this Milwaukee team. A few standout performances from him include his 38 points in Game 6 against the Brooklyn Nets, a 38-point bomb in Game 3 versus the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals, and a playoff career-high 40 points in Game 4 in the NBA Finals.

After everything that transpired in this run, including winning the championship, it was about time that Middleton got his long-overdue flowers. An 88 overall stands as a career-best for the forward since coming into the league. Considering he was a 60 overall when NBA 2K14 was released, this massive improvement from Middleton over the years has been a pleasure to watch.

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Who knows, if Middleton can piece together an encore next season, perhaps he could crack somewhere in the 90s.