Milwaukee Bucks will be even scarier upon injured players’ return

Dec 1, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 1, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /
Milwaukee Bucks: Pat Connaughton, Khris Middleton
Jul 3, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

Milwaukee Bucks fans should be ecstatic as the team has jumped out of the gate with a 4-0 start to their 2022-23 season. Their season couldn’t have gotten off to a better start, as the Bucks are the only remaining undefeated team in the league.

Although an 82 game season is very long and nobody knows what the future holds, Milwaukee Bucks fans have plenty of reasons to be even that much more excited once two key players return from injury. In their absence the Bucks have adapted some different looking lineups than can be expected when key players return.

The Milwaukee Bucks will be even more formidable when Khris Middleton returns

All-star small forward Khris Middleton has not played a game for the Milwaukee Bucks since April 2022 of last season. Middleton injured his knee in the playoff series with the Chicago Bulls and wasn’t able to return for the series against the Boston Celtics and has dealt with an off-season wrist injury that is currently holding him out of games.

There is no doubt that had Middleton been healthy, the Bucks would have beaten the Celtics and gone on to face the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. Khris Middleton is a noted Celtics killer in the playoffs. Middleton against the Celtics in the playoffs averages 22.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists. The insanely impressive part is the efficiency at which he’s played against the Celtics, 51.6 percent field goal shooting and an absolutely blistering 54.5 percent 3-point percentage.

Middleton was slated to miss the first three weeks of the season after having off-season left wrist surgery. Although the Bucks are undefeated out of the gate, their are times when there is a glaring hole on offense without him, specifically when the teams shooting goes cold. This is when the Bucks desperately miss his shooting, scoring and even his defensive prowess. Khris Middleton is clearly the second best player on the Milwaukee Bucks, and his importance of the team has never shown stronger than in his absence.

The Milwaukee Bucks can pretty much always count on 20 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists when Middleton is healthy. He is also the teams best shot creator, obviously an elite shooter, is a very good playmaker and a solid wing defender, not to mention an underrated passer, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo are an absolutely lethal pick and roll combination.

The Milwaukee Bucks’ bench will miss Pat Connaughton for a bit

Shooting guard and beloved wing player Pat Connaughton is slated to miss the approximately the first three weeks of the season with a right calf strain. Connaughton was arguably the Bucks’ best bench player last season when considering Bobby Portis spent nearly the entire season in the starting lineup. Pat was also the third best 3-point shooter on the team overall for players that logged more than 60 games played, statistically speaking at 39.5% on 5.7 attempts per game.

Connaughton brings much more to the team aside from his shooting and scoring. He provides a huge energy boost to the team off the bench (when he’s not a fill-in starter) and is also a very good rebounder. Pat is also a dirty work guy who never shies away from diving on the floor when necessary.

Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton have a similar expectancy to return to the court a few weeks into the season. There is a third player with a longer timetable to return.

Joe Ingles adds a new wrinkle to the Milwaukee Bucks’ bench depth

A third player who has yet to play this season due to injury is small forward Joe Ingles, who signed a one-year deal with the Bucks as a free agent. Due to a torn ACL suffered last January when he was a member of the Utah Jazz, the target date for his return to the court this season should be sometime in January of 2023.

While he’s a bit long in the tooth at 35 years of age and will coming off a torn ACL, Ingles still gives the Bucks size, shooting and playmaking at the wing position off the bench. He adds overall depth to the roster as well on both ends of the floor.

If Ingles has returned to form come playoff time, he should be a massive improvement off the bench compared to last season. The Bucks’ 3-point playoff shooting was not great at all last season, when they clearly missed Middleton. The hope is that Ingles can consistently hit the three point shot in the playoffs and regain his form. By that time, he should have hopefully worked himself back into game and playing shape.

When healthy and when he regains his shooting stroke, Ingles is a very good rotation player who should have a big impact. Even if his defense isn’t great, fans should be able to live with that as other guys will pick up the slack for him and he wasn’t brought in for that purpose.

It’s no secret that the Milwaukee Bucks are a much better team when their eight best players are healthy. The sky’s the limit for the team with the return of Khris Middleton, Pat Connaughton and the addition of Joe Ingles.

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While fans can’t ask for anything better than a 4-0 record to start the season, the return of these three players should fully unlock the potential of this team moving forward and into the playoffs. Until then, Giannis Antetokounmpo will continue to carry this team on his back and keep them afloat, as he seems to have improved his game and gotten even better this year so far, to nobody’s surprise.