Things really couldn’t have gotten any worse for Khris Middleton heading to the All-Star. Many were already skeptical of the Milwaukee Bucks swingman being selected as an All-Star ahead of other East forwards or even teammate Jrue Holiday.
Then, just as the team headed for the break, he was in the midst of one of his worst shooting falls of the season. The season has been filled with ups and downs, injuries and illnesses for Middleton after a championship run that solidified him as a true co-star capable of winning a title.
But no one should have panicked about what we were seeing from Middleton and his stretch run in the regular season proves why.
The Milwaukee Bucks got vintage Khris Middleton on the stretch
Let’s go back to that tough time as the team entered the break first. In his last 14 games before the All-Star break, Middleton shot just 28% from 3, including 16.7% in his last four games. He shot 27% on 3 in February. It certainly wasn’t a very loving month for Middleton.
Perhaps the lowest moment was a 2-of-12 3-point game against the Philadelphia 76ers where he had multiple chances to hit a classic Middleton clutch jumper in the fourth but just didn’t have his rhythm.
It wasn’t the first time this season that we collectively tugged at our collars and were a little nervous about his drop in shooting. This was no reason to panic as he has earned the right to believe he will pull through.
Well, he got away with it, he did!
In 12 games since the break, Middleton has averaged nearly 25 points on 63% true shooting and 47.5% from 3 on more than seven attempts per game. He’s also averaging nearly six assists and five boards, so he’s doing a bit of everything again for the Milwaukee Bucks.
He only has one game where he hasn’t knocked down multiple 3s in one game and he still finished that game with 22 points on a 63.3% effective field goal rate.
A big reason for this change in his 3-point resurgence was finding a rhythm with his pull-up. Over the course of the season, he’s shooting around 36% on pull-up 3s, which is good for his volume, but that’s not what we know Middleton can do.
Since the break, Middleton has shot over 50% on more than 40 3-point pull-up attempts. It’s more than you expected, but it’s good to see him have a positive shot chance.
But of course, we all know Middleton for his heroism in the fourth quarter and his ability to step up when the team needs him most.
Before the break, Middleton was averaging 5.6 points on 56.1% true shooting in the fourth quarter. True shooting is just around league average and points are, again, good but he’s taken it to another level since the break.
In 10 games, Middleton is averaging almost seven points in the last frame on around 70% true shooting. It’s a trend all three Milwaukee Bucks stars have been involved in lately and Middleton’s super efficiency is a big reason they’ve been able to keep it going.
His crown jewel of the stretch run was his 44-point masterpiece against the Phoenix Suns on 73% true shooting. Middleton is a candidate to appear like that in any game, but we haven’t really seen much this season.
He was more efficient, was always a great playmaker and reduced his turnover rate. The only thing now is to make sure the sore wrist isn’t in the way come playoff time.
It almost feels like his resurgence has gone under the radar of the national basketball public after they all let him have it for struggling before the break. Well, that’s nothing new for Middleton and the Milwaukee Bucks.