The Vertical's Shams Charania reported this evening that Khris Middleton tore his hamstring during preseason workouts. The Bucks later confirmed the report, adding that Middleton will undergo surgery next and is expected to miss around six months. That puts his projected return sometime around March, eating up a significant portion of the season.
The Bucks were ill-equipped to lose a player at any position other than center, but losing a player of Middleton's caliber leaves a far more gaping hole, especially given the Bucks' relative lack of depth behind him. Middleton had become a reliable offensive fulcrum in his third season with the Bucks, averaging a career-high 18.2 points and 4.2 assists while hitting just under 40 percent from deep. Not only will his shooting be missed on a team that badly needs it, but his evolving ability to create offense will also be missed. Hinting at his broader impact, he also finished second among shooting guards in offensive RPM and fourth in total RPM, and the Bucks were a whopping 12.4 points/100 possessions better with him on the court than off -- by far the best numbers on the team.
No other Buck came close to matching those figures, and the depth behind Middleton makes his loss even more acute. Rashad Vaughn and Malcolm Brogdon probably aren't ready for major minutes, while Matthew Dellavedova, Michael Carter-Williams and Jason Terry can see minutes at the two but don't come close to replicating Middleton's all-around game. In summation? Yeah, this is a brutal blow.
In addition to the aforementioned replacements in house, the Bucks have also brought in the likes of J.J. O'Brien, Orlando Johnson, and (reportedly) Jabari Brown to compete during training camp. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical has also reported that the team has been inquiring today about deals that would compensate the loss of Middleton. If Middleton were to be ruled out for the entire season, the Bucks could also apply for and be rewarded with a Disabled Player Exception (just under $6 million), but that doesn't seem too likely given the injury timetable the team has initially provided.
The Bucks will head to training camp in Madison starting next week to get prepared for an interesting season. Now, down one of their core pieces, it's about to get even more interesting.