Last week the Milwaukee Bucks announced that their starting Shooting guard, Khris Middleton, was going to be sidelined for up to 6 months with a ruptured hamstring. As a die-hard Bucks fan, this is one of the worst ways our season could have started. Our young core has increasingly been receiving attention from the wider sports media over the past couple of seasons, with Giannis and Jabari Parker dominating headlines about the team with their sky-high potential and impending superstardom. However, the reason Khris’ injury nearly brought me to tears is that the influence he has on this Bucks team is absolutely massive, and I really think the team will struggle mightily as a result.
The length and athleticism of Milwaukee’s starting lineup is well known within basketball circles, and last year Jason Kidd took full advantage of this. The Bucks led the NBA in points off turnovers, highlighting their emphasis on counter-attacking from a loose ball poked away from the praying mantis-length arms of Giannis, Middleton or Carter-Williams. Middleton is no letdown on defense either, hovering around the middle to top third of the league in Defensive Efficiency. However, in the half-court it was an entirely different story in terms of their offense. In the modern, perimeter shooting dominant NBA of today, the Milwaukee Bucks were dead last in three pointers attempted. The amount they took over the entire 82 season was only half of that attempted by the Golden State Warriors, and as you can imagine they were also in the bottom third in the league in three points percentage. This says that they strayed away from that side of the floor due to their lack of consistent (ie. OJ Mayo) shooting. Now what does this have to do with Khris Middleton? The young Shooting guard in his career best season last year scored nearly 50% of the Bucks’ total of three pointers made. 50%. He is one of the few players on the roster they can rely on in the half court and run set plays for, and Middleton is fantastic coming off screens and picks. In the past couple of months the Bucks signed additional shooters (Mirza Teletovic and Jason Terry) that would have taken the pressure off Middleton on this side of the floor. However, without Middleton I feel that these signings will have very little impact on the Bucks’ season.
So, what effect will Middleton’s injury have on the Bucks? Sadly, I think it will really put a dampener on what could have been a breakout season. Without a go-to shooter and scorer that can be relied on in offensive situations apart from the fast break, I do think the Bucks will be one of the worst scoring teams in the NBA. Giannis and Jabari will continue to make leaps and bounds, but will it be enough? I just think without Khris, the Bucks have a gaping hole in their offensive scheme that they will struggle to fill. They’ve lined up exciting sophomore Rashad Vaughn to be the starting 2 guard, and I really like this guy and hope he can do a serviceable job at that position- but as an up and coming team with playoff aspirations, serviceable may not be good enough to get where they want to go. Get better soon Khris.