The question the Milwaukee Bucks face as Khris Middleton’s return looms
The Milwaukee Bucks have an interesting decision to make, with Khris Middleton’s return coming sometime shortly. While Middleton has been out for the entirety of the regular season to date, the starting lineup has looked slightly different than it would have if Middleton had been there.
The team’s primary starting lineup when healthy consists of Jrue Holiday, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Brook Lopez. Their spots in the lineup will be safe regardless of what happens upon Middleton’s return.
Grayson Allen and Jevon Carter are the two wild cards in the current lineup. With Middleton’s return on the horizon, one of the two will have to be relegated to the Bucks’ bench. The question is, which one?
Who should the Milwaukee Bucks keep in the starting lineup when Khris Middleton returns?
Jevon Carter and Grayson Allen offer their pros and cons of being starters for the Bucks. However, when a three-time All-Star is about to return to your team, only one can remain in that role.
When it comes down to it, Carter likely offers more to the starting unit than Allen does. It’s easy to get lost in the offensive stats on the box score and assume that Carter doesn’t do much, but he offers so much more to the team than scoring.
With Carter and Holiday on the floor simultaneously, it allows the Bucks to get more versatile with their defensive assignments. While Holiday and Carter may both be point guards by trade, the two are spectacular defenders capable of guarding multiple positions.
When Carter plays with Holiday, it allows Holiday to do more for the team defensively than to lock down the opposing team’s point guard. Holiday has spent 33.1 percent of his time defensively guarding forwards this season, per NBA.com/stats. In the just over 41 minutes matched up on forwards this season, Holiday has held them to just 41.7 percent shooting.
The great defense doesn’t stop at Holiday. Carter has spent most of his time defending guards this season. Carter has spent a little over 75 minutes defending guards this season. In those minutes, he has been excellent, holding opponents to 36.4 percent shooting from the field and 23.5 percent from three.
While Brook Lopez has received a lot of credit for Milwaukee’s fantastic season defensively, and deservedly so, having Carter start alongside Holiday has been another significant factor. Both players, and the Bucks as a whole, have benefited from the lockdown defense that the team’s backcourt has provided early in the season.
To get back to Grayson Allen, his moving to the bench is also beneficial. Allen provides a great perimeter shooter to a second unit that desperately needs it without Pat Connaughton and Joe Ingles this season.
Carter and Allen have given the team a boost in the absence of Middleton in the season’s early stages. With the team’s defense being as great as it has been with Carter in the lineup, he is the best option to remain in the lineup when Middleton returns.
Stay tuned for updates on when Khris Middleton will return to the Bucks and how they will handle their rotation upon his return.