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Three Bs: Khris Middleton

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Toronto Raptors John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Brew Hoop’s entirely subjective and emotionally-driven 2017-18 Milwaukee Bucks season player evaluations. For this series, we wanted to look at each current Buck and ask three questions: what they do that helps (Boon), what they do that hurts (Bane), and whether they ought to be on this team (Belonging).

I had a cool logo featuring a trio of Bs, but got a “cease and desist” notice from a lawyer wearing $200 flip flops. Oh well. Today, we’re looking at everyone’s favorite midrange maestro, Khris Middleton.

Season Stats (per 36 minutes – rank at position)

  • Points/36: 19.9 (4th among small forwards, 57th overall)
  • Rebounds/36: 5.2 (40th among small forwards)
  • Assists/36: 4.0 (7th among small forwards, 129th overall)
  • Steals/36: 1.4 (20th among small forwards)
  • 3PA/36: 4.9 (32nd among small forwards)
  • 3Pt%: 0.359 (34th among small forwards)

Khris’ Boon: Jack of All Trades, Master of Some

It’s hard to believe that Khris Middleton was a mere throw-in way back in 2013, given how far he’s come in his personal development. At once, he is a versatile scorer (20.2 points/game, a career high), outstanding midrange shooter (55.8% on shots between 10-16 feet this year) and three-point marksman (39.4% for his career, down to 36.7% this season), a capable playmaker (3.9 assists/game, an A/TO ratio of 1.7:1, and a knack for tossing up a nice alley-oop), and a competent defender (1.4 steals/game). There are simply few things that Khris is objectively bad at, and he generally avoids exposing those weaknesses by avoiding them entirely.

Khris’ Bane: A Round Peg in a Square Hole

Despite Khris’ all-around basketball prowess, his performance often suffers when his job description doesn’t sync with his strengths, and his on-court responsibilities don’t leverage his elite skills. Sure, Middleton is one of the best midrange shooters in the league, but fans would rather that those long 2s turn into 3s. Middleton himself might share the sentiment, but when he is repeatedly tasked with making plays and being aggressive about finding shots, it’s becomes difficult to achieve the ideal. Like a round peg in a square hole, Middleton is good enough to get the job done, but unless the task at hand is the right fit for his strengths, the additional “wiggle room” results in sub-optimal play, even with impressive results.

Does Khris Belong?

As a relatively unathletic wing player who relies more on skills than speed, Middleton’s 3&D game would both fit on any NBA team and project to age favorably compared to players who depend more on their burst or quickness. There’s no question that he’s a starting caliber player, and his compatibility with Giannis going forward (depending on which parts of his game are prioritized) is solid as well. Middleton’s pending payday will muddy the waters, but not until next summer at the earliest.