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Brew Hoop Season Review: Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, and Giannis Antetokounmpo

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The playoffs continue on, and the Milwaukee Bucks continue to watch. But hopefully the team, behind our core trio of young talented players, will be able to keep the Bucks relevant through May (and beyond!). We've come to the conclusion of this series, and get to look back at the season that was for Khash, Major Cat!, and the Greek Freak.

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

This is it! For a full recap of this series, check out the story stream here.

For most people, the conversation about the Milwaukee Bucks starts and ends with the triumvirate of Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. And you know what, most people are right: these three are the most exciting trio of players to don a Bucks uni in decades. Let's get to the grades.

Khris Middleton

Statistical Recap:

Khris Middleton

MP/G

FG/G

FGA/G

FG%

3P/G

3PA/G

3P%

2P/G

2PA/G

2P%

FT/G

FTA/G

FT%

ORB/G

DRB/G

TRB/G

AST/G

STL/G

BLK/G

TOV/G

PF/G

PTS/G

PER GAME

36.1

6.4

14.5

0.444

1.8

4.6

0.396

4.6

9.9

0.466

3.5

3.9

0.888

0.6

3.3

3.8

4.2

1.7

0.2

2.3

2.6

18.2

PER 36

MP

FG / 36

FGA / 36

3P / 36

3PA / 36

2P / 36

2PA / 36

FT / 36

FTA / 36

ORB / 36

DRB / 36

TRB / 36

AST / 36

STL / 36

BLK / 36

TOV / 36

PF / 36

PTS / 36

2852

6.4

14.4

1.8

4.6

4.6

9.9

3.5

3.9

0.6

3.3

3.8

4.2

1.7

0.2

2.3

2.6

18.1

ADVANCED

G

PER

eFG%

TS%

3PAr

FTr

ORB%

DRB%

TRB%

AST%

STL%

BLK%

TOV%

OWS

DWS

WS

WS/48

OBPM

DBPM

BPM

VORP

USG%

79

16.8

0.507

0.56

0.316

0.273

1.8

10.2

6

18.9

2.3

0.6

12.3

4.3

1.8

6.1

0.103

2.2

-1.6

0.6

1.9

23

Synopsis:

Giannis and Jabari are often touted as the franchise cornerstones, but Khris Middleton had one of the most impressive seasons in recent Milwaukee history. With raw per-game totals of 18/4/4 and shooting splits of 44/40/89, he has the statistical profile of a versatile scorer who can do a little bit of everything. But when you really look at his season and see the type of responsibility he took on offense, and compare it to his career averages and what we expected from him as a playmaker, Middleton looks just that much more special.

And what's more, is that Middleton looks like he's not done developing, either. If 2015-16 was about seeing how he performed as a lead player on a bad team, the future might be about seeing him playing a contributing (but still important!) role on a good one. Consider this: for his considerable three-point shooting ability, Middleton does not take all that many threes. For the past three seasons, Middleton ranked in the bottom 10% in 3PAr among all players who shot at least 39.5% from deep. With seasons of .414 (2013-14) and .407 (2014-15), Khris has proven that he can hit long distance shots reliably...but he just doesn't take a ton of them (he's in the middle of the road for both attempts and makes in the sort above).

So we know Khris is a plus-shooter, which the team needs. But he can also capably defend multiple positions, run the floor, score in the half court, and make plays for his teammates. And at 6'8", he has the ability to switch between positions, a crucial skill in the NBA and Milwaukee's defensive scheme. He's just...really good at so much. Not bad for a second-round pick.

Brew Hoop Staff Grades:

Offense Defense Improvement Fit Going Forward Overall Season
8.00 6.33 7.83 9.83 8.33

Frank says: Middleton's evolution into a capable playmaker starting in December might be the most overlooked trend of the Bucks' season. Combine that with a deadly perimeter shot and you have the ideal wing to plug into almost any lineup.

Mitchell says: On the flip side, Middleton was a DRPM gem in 2014-15, and "fell off" this season (from 4.09 to 0.72), but that is more the fault of the team's defense tanking than his own. I certainly don't expect him to be a bad defender going forward. Last year's Middleton would fit on any NBA roster; this year's Middleton would flourish on any roster. He continued to be a lights-out shooter, but also showed massive improvement in transition, from mid-range, and as a passer.

Frank says: Neck-and-neck with Giannis for Team MVP, Middleton might also be the most quietly valuable trade asset in the NBA. Don't expect the Bucks to move him -- they need his shooting as much as anyone -- but the Bucks could use him as the centerpiece of any trade for a non-top-five player.

Jabari Parker

Statistical Recap:

Jabari Parker

MP/G

FG/G

FGA/G

FG%

3P/G

3PA/G

3P%

2P/G

2PA/G

2P%

FT/G

FTA/G

FT%

ORB/G

DRB/G

TRB/G

AST/G

STL/G

BLK/G

TOV/G

PF/G

PTS/G

PER GAME

31.7

5.8

11.8

0.493

0.1

0.5

0.257

5.7

11.4

0.502

2.3

3

0.768

1.6

3.6

5.2

1.7

0.9

0.4

1.5

2

14.1

PER 36

MP

FG / 36

FGA / 36

3P / 36

3PA / 36

2P / 36

2PA / 36

FT / 36

FTA / 36

ORB / 36

DRB / 36

TRB / 36

AST / 36

STL / 36

BLK / 36

TOV / 36

PF / 36

PTS / 36

2408

6.6

13.4

0.1

0.5

6.5

12.9

2.6

3.4

1.8

4.1

5.9

1.9

1

0.4

1.7

2.3

16

ADVANCED

G

PER

eFG%

TS%

3PAr

FTr

ORB%

DRB%

TRB%

AST%

STL%

BLK%

TOV%

OWS

DWS

WS

WS/48

OBPM

DBPM

BPM

VORP

USG%

76

14.8

0.498

0.535

0.039

0.254

5.9

12.8

9.4

8.9

1.5

1

10.4

2.4

1.2

3.6

0.072

-0.9

-1.5

-2.4

-0.3

20.9

Synopsis:

This was the year everyone called Jabari Parker's "true" rookie year. With his rehabilitation from a torn ACL (an injury some of us know too well), it was widely-expected that his reintegration would be slow and steady. Parker's return started off deliberately light (he only played in half of the first 12 games of the season), but he very soon surpassed most expectations for playing time in late November, and seemed to be nearly completely removed from any minutes restrictions by January.

And once Jabari got going, he got going. After February 1st, Jabari averaged 17 points per game on above-average efficiency; he was making shots at the rim at a fantastic rate, getting to the line more often, and even hitting a few threes towards the end of the year. Post-ASB Jabari is the Jabari Parker we all expected coming out of Duke, and excitement was high.

But even with all that excitement, it wasn't a picture-perfect campaign for Parker. He still showed some growing pains on offense, maintained a red light from deep for longer than we might have wanted, and his defense...oh man, his defense. It was bad; he was far from the worst defender in the league, but he was far from the best. He did get better as the year went on, which is great, but nobody is expecting Parker to turn into Tony Allen on the defensive end.

Brew Hoop Staff Grades:

Offense Defense Improvement Fit Going Forward Overall Season
6.50 1.83 7.50 7.67 7.17

Brett says: Jabari was awesome post-ASB offensively, but I can't ignore the negative impact I perceived him to have before his breakout. He wasn't helping the spacing, wasn't really creating any offense outside of transition, and when he did try to create for himself, it mostly resulted in awkward isolations that rarely led to any points.

Eric N says: Mitchell laid out very clear rules for us and made a scale from 1-10 that made complete sense. I decided to color outside the lines and give a grade of 0 for "defense". I just didn't think abysmal was a strong enough word for Jabari Parker's defense, so I decided to take it a step further.

I have been told again and again, "Rookies are always bad defensively. Those were just rookie mistakes. He'll get better." That may very well be true, but seems to me like a bit of wishful thinking. I've seen rookies play bad defense and Parker's defense went above and beyond that. He regularly made mistakes that would be hard to comprehend in a high school game, let alone a NBA game. He not only seems averse to contact, but appears to actively avoid it at times on the defensive side of the ball. My view of his defense is so negative that I actively question if the Bucks will ever be able to overcome his defensive woes to win a championship.

Mitchell says: I was wiling to give Jabari a 3 for defense, since he did improve a bit at the end of the year. Apparently "poor" is the high-mark for Jabari's defense among our staff. I thought he got better as the season progressed but...yeah...

Brett says: I gave Jabari a 9 for "fit"; I perceived this more as his fit within the team, which I blindly gave a high score just because I think we should be evaluating others' fits around him, not the other way around. Though I do understand lower scores due to how hard it might be to build a complementary defense around him.

Frank says: In the context of a 20-year-old kid coming off a major knee injury, Jabari is probably deserving of an 8 or 9 for his overall season; by the standard of whether he helped the Bucks win games I'd say his defense drags him down to something like a 6.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Statistical Recap:

Giannis Antetokounmpo

MP/G

FG/G

FGA/G

FG%

3P/G

3PA/G

3P%

2P/G

2PA/G

2P%

FT/G

FTA/G

FT%

ORB/G

DRB/G

TRB/G

AST/G

STL/G

BLK/G

TOV/G

PF/G

PTS/G

PER GAME

35.3

6.4

12.7

0.506

0.4

1.4

0.257

6.1

11.3

0.537

3.7

5.1

0.724

1.4

6.2

7.7

4.3

1.2

1.4

2.6

3.2

16.9

MP

FG / 36

FGA / 36

3P / 36

3PA / 36

2P / 36

2PA / 36

FT / 36

FTA / 36

ORB / 36

DRB / 36

TRB / 36

AST / 36

STL / 36

BLK / 36

TOV / 36

PF / 36

PTS / 36

PER 36

2823

6.5

12.9

0.4

1.4

6.2

11.5

3.8

5.2

1.4

6.4

7.8

4.4

1.2

1.4

2.7

3.3

17.2

G

PER

eFG%

TS%

3PAr

FTr

ORB%

DRB%

TRB%

AST%

STL%

BLK%

TOV%

OWS

DWS

WS

WS/48

OBPM

DBPM

BPM

VORP

USG%

ADVANCED

80

18.8

0.520

0.566

0.108

0.404

4.6

20

12.4

20

1.7

3.4

14.8

4.2

2.9

7.1

0.121

1

1.5

2.4

3.2

22.3

Synopsis:

What else can you say about Giannis that hasn't already been said? I mean, really. He started the first half of the season strong, scoring at a better rate than he ever has, continuing to rebound well, block shots, fill lanes in transition, and disrupting opponents in ways that only he can.

And then Point Giannis descended upon us, and the results were downright silly. I went into great detail about Giannis' incredible growth here, and how his 2015-16 season put him in rare company statistically. Whether you call him a point guard, point forward, or point everything, we can all agree on one point: Giannis is unlike anything we've really ever seen before.

And he's 21 years old.

Brew Hoop Staff Grades:

Offense Defense Improvement Fit Going Forward Overall Season
8.00 7.00 8.83 9.83 8.67

Mitchell says: Giannis looked like he made The Leap after the All Star Break. The team looks like it will be entirely driven by his growth, and he's been closer to meeting his sky-high potential than ever before. The only think keeping his "improvement" capped at excellent for me? Giannis' continued lack of shooting ability. Whether because he's being held back or holding himself back, he will greatly benefit from working on fixing his jumper from specific parts of the floor.

Frank says: His play over the last two months of the season was phenomenal, doubly so when you consider he's a 21-year-old kid still figuring out what the hell he's doing. So I gave him an 8 for "overall" -- and look forward to giving him a 15 two years from now.

Bonus discussion! Mitchell asks: What would/should priority #1 be this summer? Extending Giannis? Or since that’s the obvious answer (to me), what else could be the top goal be?

Eric B says: I don’t know if it’s priority #1, but I want to see what the bench looks like next year. Who stays and who goes? Do the youngsters get bigger roles or do they take a necessary backseat again? Who can you add to bolster that unit? To me, I think Bayless, Ennis, Vaughn, Novak, and Plumlee (through RFA) should stay. Inglis and Henson probably will, but who knows. Perhaps drafting a wing like Luwawu and a unique forward like Chriss or whoever helps, too. Maybe you sign Teletovic, too. There’s certainly several options, but I think the bench situation is more important than we think.

Mitchell says: I can see where you’re coming from. Two seasons ago, the Bucks had a great bench, and did really well. Last season, the Bucks had a bad bench, and did...not so well. Very big-picture in terms of what to look for this summer, too.

Frank says: Maxing Giannis would definitely be an easy win for a franchise that could really benefit from one. There are good financial arguments for postponing that decision by a year (his lower cap hold could open up significant additional cap flexibility), but I would agree that doing it now would send a powerful message to everyone -- especially Giannis -- about the franchise’s belief in him as a person and a player. Besides, a preemptive max offer also makes it a virtual certainty that he gets locked up for five years without the ability to opt out, which in many ways should probably be job one. It just feels right, doesn’t it? As for the not-so-easy-win department, I think figuring out the center situation is the biggest roster question. Greg Monroe returning is the only thing that would really surprise me to be honest.

Eric N says: I don’t understand why using a max contract extension the second you can sign Antetokounmpo to an extension is viewed as the only way to tell Antetokounmpo how much he means to the organization. I get that it is the most obvious way to show him that, but there are other ways to handle the situation.

As Frank mentions, there are plenty of good reasons for postponing the decision. To me, it seems much more logical to talk with Antetokounmpo and tell him if he wants the extension, he can have it, but if he wants to give the organization more options in building a better team around him, it would be best for the organization if he waits.

Time and time again, we hear about the league’s top players wanting to have input on roster construction, wouldn’t it be just as much of a statement to Antetokounmpo to completely layout the thought process to him and what his future could be if he helps out the organization? I think it could be great to let him know that you desperately want to form a Tim Duncan-Spurs type relationship with him.

Mitchell says: Forgive me for putting this evil into the world...but what if he gets hurt? What if he has a Shaun Livingston one-in-a-million injury during international play, or next season? His NBA future goes up in smoke without that extension signed, sealed, and delivered. The team would certainly be set back for years if that happened, but he would be set back for life. Offering him the extension would let him and his family be set for life; that’s why the early rookie max extension is the best way to prove the team’s commitment to Giannis. I 100% agree that the logical approach is to try and convince him that waiting is for the best, and I would even agree that Giannis is the kind of person to be willing to have that talk. It’s one of the few ways that Giannis could become more endearing to fans. But offering the extension erases any shadows of doubt that could even creep into his mind. He’s the first player we’ve had that’s anywhere close to being worth that kind of treatment. It’s not worth the risk, no matter how slim the odds.

Brett says: Wow, Mitchell, you really went a different direction than I thought you were going to with that. Forgive me if this is harsh, but I’m not too concerned with Giannis’ family being ‘set for life’ when it comes to this topic (as selfish as that might sound). But at the same time, I definitely think actions speak louder than words when it comes to ‘making him our guy’ now, rather than later. Sure you can tell him he’s your guy, but I’m sure players hear that all the time. The only way you can truly show him is probably extending him now. Then again, when we look back in three, five, ten years, will we look back and regret not committing to a once in a lifetime franchise guy when we could? Or will we look back and regret not having the cap space flexibility to acquire more talent to try and make a run? (Or even worse, locking up a guy to a five-year max that had a career derailing injury?)

Mitchell says: I can't believe I just went there.

(Yes, everybody, I recognize that I'm the worst. You have my apologies.)

Now that we've gotten to this point, it feels (for a change) pretty good to be a Bucks fan. The playoffs are once again proving that the NBA is a star-driven league: having players on the level of LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook are effectively a prerequisite to true contention. It's an incredibly high bar for any young player, but Giannis and Jabari moved closer to reaching their elite potential last season, while Middleton served notice that he might be an all-star caliber player himself. Can management build a roster around them, and can they make the further leap necessary to bring May and June basketball back to Milwaukee? We're about to find out.