How Khris Middleton found himself down the stretch for Milwaukee Bucks

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 06:(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 06:(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

Things really couldn’t have been going worse for Khris Middleton heading into the All-Star. Many were already skeptical that the Milwaukee Bucks swingman was selected as an All-Star ahead of other forwards in the East or even his teammate Jrue Holiday.

Then, right as the team headed into the break, he was in the midst of one of his worst shooting slumps of the season. It has been an up-and-down, injury and illness-filled season for Middleton after a championship run that solidified himself as a true co-star capable of winning a title.

But no one should have panicked about what we were seeing from Middleton and his stretch run in the regular season is proving why.

The Milwaukee Bucks have gotten vintage Khris Middleton down the stretch

Let’s go back to that rough patch as the team went into the break first. In his final 14 games before the All-Star break, Middleton shot just 28 percent from 3, including 16.7 percent in his final four games. He shot 27 percent from 3 in the month of February. It was certainly not a very loving month for Middleton.

Perhaps the lowest moment was a 2-of-12 game from 3-point range against the Philadelphia 76ers where he had multiple chances to hit a classic Middleton clutch jumper in the fourth but simply didn’t have his rhythm.

It wasn’t the first time this season that we collectively tugged our collars and were a teensy bit nervous about his shooting slump. It wasn’t a reason to panic because he has earned the right to have the belief that he’ll shoot his way out of it.

And, well, shoot himself out of it he did!

In 12 games since the break, Middleton has averaged nearly 25 points on 63 percent true shooting and 47.5 percent from 3 on over seven attempts per game. He’s also averaging nearly six assists and five boards, so he’s doing a little bit of everything once again for the Milwaukee Bucks.

He only has one game where he didn’t knock down multiple 3s in a single game and he still finished that game with 22 points on a 63.3 percent effective field goal rate.

A big reason for this change in his 3-point resurgence has been finding a groove with his pull-up jumper. On the season, he’s shooting right around 36 percent on pull-up 3s, which is fine for his volume, but it’s not what we know Middleton can do.

Since the break, Middleton has shot over 50 percent on over 40 pull-up 3-point attempts. That’s more than what you’d expect, but it’s good to see him getting some positive shooting luck.

But of course, we all know Middleton for his fourth-quarter heroics and ability to take games over in the clutch when the team needs him most.

Before the break, Middleton was averaging 5.6 points on 56.1 percent true shooting in the fourth quarter. The true shooting is right around league average and the points are, once again, fine but he’s taken it to another level since the break.

In 10 games, Middleton is averaging nearly seven points in the final frame on around 70 percent true shooting. It’s a trend that all three of the Milwaukee Bucks’ stars have been involved in as of late and Middleton’s uber efficiency is a big reason why they’ve been able to go on this hot run down the stretch.

His crown jewel of the stretch run was his 44-point masterpiece against the Phoenix Suns on 73 percent true shooting. Middleton is a candidate to pop off like that in any game, but we hadn’t really seen that much this season.

He’s been more efficient, still been a great playmaker, and has cut down his turnover rate. The only thing now is to make sure that sore wrist isn’t bothersome come playoff time.

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It almost feels like his resurgence has gone under the radar to the national basketball audience after they all let him have it for struggling before the break. Well, hey, that’s nothing new for Middleton and the Milwaukee Bucks.