No one benefited more from the midseason arrival of Michael Carter-Williams than Khris Middleton. With leading scorer Brandon Knight gone, Middleton took on an expanded role that saw him average nearly 17 points per game over the season's final two months of the season -- and cash in to the tune of five years and $70 million when free agency began on July 1st.
Still, Middleton's emergence was well under way even before Knight departed, and he made it clear on Monday that he's not just a gunner looking for more shots.
"This year, I won't be forced into that role to take as many tough shots as I felt I did last year. With Greg and Jabari coming back, I should just be able to play my role, not force as much, and just play off others and play my game."
On his role this season:
"I'm really not sure, but I'm ready for anything. I don't have to be the focal point of this offense. Really, I don't think any of us need to be the focal point of this offense, just as long as we all play together. We have Greg down low that can score and make plays, Giannis and Jabari that can do the same thing and Mike as a talented point guard. As long as we just fit together and play together, we don't have to worry about who is going to take these shots or who is going to do what."
On staying in Milwaukee and not exploring any other options in free agency:
"First of all, I love the city. I love being here. Just being traded here with John Hammond. They had confidence in me. They told me they wanted me here and that I was a big piece of that trade. They gave me confidence on the floor. Then J. Kidd came last year and made me a better and more complete player. I wouldn't want to leave when I know I have a great situation here with a chance to keep moving forward."
On the young core:
"Like you said, we're young. I think Greg is the oldest at 25. We have a lot of talent that will be here for years to come. Just learning and playing with each other in the next week during training camp is going to be huge for us. Learning the system and learning how to play off of each other, especially with Jabari going down. We didn't have him for half the year, so we add him, Greg, Cope and Greivis. It's going to be a challenge, but once we figure it out, I think we can be a very dangerous team."
On finding his role and team chemistry:
"I felt like last year I was forced into that role [after the All-Star break]. This year, I won't be forced into that role to take as many tough shots as I felt I did last year. With Greg and Jabari coming back, I should just be able to play my role, not force as much, and just play off others and play my game."
Brew Hoop Takeaways: Despite a new contract and relatively impressive second half as the focal point of the Bucks offense, it seems like Middleton is (rather refreshingly) more than happy to settle back into being a "3-and-D guy", while allowing Monroe and Parker to work together as the major focus of the Bucks offense. Middleton also seems to believe the Bucks are putting together something quite special and he seems more than happy to be a part of it.
On the offseason:
"It was great. It was kind of like a breathe of fresh air. The biggest thing for me was just being on the court and in the weight room. That was really important for me since I missed last summer [with a shoulder injury]."
On practicing with with Team USA this summer:
"It was great. I learned a lot. I had a great time. I took advice from some people who have played in this league for a while and are at a place I want to get some day....I took a lot of advice, I put in a lot of work in the offseason and I'm just excited for this week."
Possible mindset change as a point guard with added weapons:
"It's something I think about. I'm not going to try to change my game too much. I think these guys push me to be aggressive and attack the rim and do things to just help the team. I've still got a ways to go, I've still got things to figure out. I'm sure my coaches and my teammates will help me out with that."
On Jason Kidd's influence:
"It's been great. He's taught me a lot in the short amount of time I've been here. I try to pick his brain everyday, watch old film of his and how he ran his offense, especially this year. When he was playing with Dallas, he was playing with a lot of good players and he managed to get the ball to everybody and this year, I'm in a similar situation. So, I've just tried to watch a lot of film of his and picking his brain."
Brew Hoop Takeaways: After missing all of last summer due to shoulder surgery, it seemed like Carter-Williams was really grateful to have a healthy offseason, in which to work on his game. He also seemed to really focus on using his experiences this summer to take in as much information as possible. His answers also made it seem like he is well aware of the skill of his teammates and how he will need to be a strong facilitator in this upcoming season.