Hey, did you hear that Khris Middleton is coming back from his lengthy absence? Did you know that the Milwaukee Bucks will finally be able to get their second-best player on the court, after missing all seven games of last postseason’s disappointing loss in the Conference Semis and the first 20 games of this regular season? Were you aware that this was all happening?
Of course you were. You saw it here after you got it from Shams Charania, and you even got a hint from Bucks assistant coach Mike Dunlap, who is absolutely one of the most entertaining follows on the hellsite that is Twitter. But today, we got “official” confirmation from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, which once again came well after Shams initially reported the news. Thanks Woj, glad you were able to use your gaudy platform to tell the world something that we already knew, but in a way that makes it “exciting.” But really, I applaud the additional energy and effort from Woj here; he could have just hit “retweet” on Shams’ post, but he wrote out an entire three sentences of his own. I suppose the broadcast information needed to be shoehorned into the news to make everyone at ESPN HQ happy, too.
ESPN Sources: Milwaukee Bucks All-Star forward Khris Middleton plans to make his season debut vs. the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday (ESPN, 7:30 PM ET). Middleton has been recovering from July surgery on his left wrist. The Bucks are 15-5, second in the East.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 1, 2022
Great scoop, Woj! Glad you waited long enough this time for the report to be factual!
Anyways, Khris is back! That’s legitimately exciting news for the Bucks, who have been on-track for the first quarter of the NBA season despite a middling performance on offense. Middleton will undoubtedly help with that in ways that doesn’t take away from Milwaukee’s stellar defense.
The real trick is going to be up to Mike Budenholzer, and how to restructure the minutes allocated in the rotation. Khris’ return won’t affect the balance with the bigs; Brook Lopez, Bobby Portis, and Giannis Antetokounmpo will likely continue playing their usual roles in the front court, though Giannis won’t have to do as much creating on offense. Middleton also won’t take minutes away from Jrue Holiday, given that he’s an equally important part of Milwaukee’s structure on both sides of the court. No, the minutes that will go to Khris will come mostly from the backcourt, primarily redistributed from Jevon Carter, Grayson Allen, and George Hill. Carter and Allen have shown significant growth thus far this year, which means that the competition for their minutes will be tight, and more marginal players like MarJon Beauchamp (who is a rookie) and Jordan Nwora (who has been...pretty unimpressive) are liable to fall out of the rotation entirely, if they haven’t already. Further complicating this task is the fact that Pat Connaughton is still working his way into form after returning from his own injury, and Joe Ingles remains waiting in the wings for his own debut.
This is a good problem to have. Milwaukee continues to find ways to execute their schemes and win games despite missing major contributors, and the return of those players will bolster the depth that the Bucks need to get through the regular season. Every day will bring a new set of challenges, but the team is setting themselves up for success for the postseason. Stay tuned!