Milwaukee Bucks: Growth from top duo in NBA 2K series is unfathomable

Milwaukee Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Milwaukee Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

When Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton first joined forces on the Milwaukee Bucks eight seasons ago, they were certainly not held in the same regard as they are now.

If you need any proof, look no further than their individual ratings on NBA 2K14, the best-selling video game. Antetokounmpo was a 60 overall in the installment, which made some level of sense at the time, considering he was an unproven rookie that was coming into the NBA as a player that was viewed as a project. Middleton was given that same 60 overall rating after coming aboard in a trade with the Detroit Pistons, with the former second round pick being viewed as a throw-in to make the salaries work in the deal.

No one could have predicted the journey that these two would go on and end up where they are in the present day. In the latest installment of the NBA 2K series, NBA 2K22, Antetokounmpo is tied for the highest overall in the game with a 96, while Middleton now boasts the highest mark of his career at 88 overall. After Milwaukee’s title-winning season, it was about time that these two got their proper flowers in the game, but they more than earned these new ratings.

How Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton got to this point in their tenure with the Milwaukee Bucks

Not too many players in the association can say they have taken such massive strides with their rating as Antetokounmpo and Middleton have.

Of course, Antetokounmpo’s rise to stardom since coming to the NBA at 18-years-old has been one of the greatest stories told. With five All-Star nods, five All-NBA selections, four All-Defense honors, a Most Improved Player Award, two league MVPs, a Defensive Player of the Year, and an illustrious Finals MVP under his belt, Antetokounmpo is arguably the most decorated 26-year-old to play the sport. The Greek Freak has consistently improved with each passing season with the Bucks, and the rating has jumped over 30 points in the eight years since he was drafted.

Although Middleton might not be on the same level as Antetokounmpo, he is a star in his own right, as evidenced by his massive jump in the ratings as well. After one year in Detroit, the trade to Milwaukee helped Middleton developed into the player he is today, having earned two All-Star nominations along the way. He has transformed into one of the most lethal three-level scorers in the modern NBA, and after years of being underrated, he is getting some respect. Of course, some will argue that his 88 is still too low, but considering he came from a 60 overall to begin, this is still amazing growth.

After the title run that these two just went on, there was little doubt that they would receive their respect from the game. Antetokounmpo and Middleton helped lead the Bucks to their first title in 50 years. While his offense was troublesome at times, Middleton stepped up when it mattered the most on several occasions and came up clutch for the Bucks. For Antetokounmpo, not even a hyper-extended knee would slow him down on this title run as he was determined to bring this city a championship, and he delivered with an astounding 50 points in Game 6 of the Finals.

The journey from having the worst record in the league during their first season together to being the defending world champions is a special thing for Antetokounmpo and Middleton.

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While these ratings are not something the two likely admire closely, it is great to see it as a fan.