Khris Middleton reminds me of M. Night Shyamalan’s filmography. It’s a neverending circle of confusion that starts as good, turns to bad at the halfway mark, and circles back up to good.
There are times where Shymalan looks like one of the most important directors of the last 30 years with films such as The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs. Then, Shymalan will direct bad films like The Happening and After Earth and make you question if he’s the same guy who was nominated for two Oscars. But, the circle must close back at the top, and adding good films like The Visit and Split completes the circle of confusion.
Are you confused yet? Thankfully, HoopAnalysisNet created Middleton’s circle of confusion.
Just like Shyamalan’s plot twists, Middleton is an enigma. There will be games where he looks like the best player on the floor. Down 3-2 to the Brooklyn Nets, Middleton played the game of his life in a Game 6 win, scoring 38 points. He followed up that performance with 23 points in Game 7 including 11 points in the fourth quarter to help the Bucks advance past the Nets.
Following the circle, Middleton must come back to Earth, which he did in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, scoring 15 points in a Game 1 loss and 15 points in a Game 2 win. In the next four games, Middleton becomes Michael Jordan as the Bucks win three of the next four games to advance to the NBA Finals.
If we follow the circle, Middleton must forget how to play basketball at some point. Guess what? That’s exactly what happened in Game 2 of the NBA Finals where Middleton looked lost on the offensive end. Middleton ended the game with 11 points on 5 of 16 shooting and a Plus/Minus of -15.
Middleton either plays like of the 20 best players in the NBA or someone outside of the top 100. It’s baffling considering the Bucks paid him a max contract when he only showcases his true potential 70% of the time. Players can have bad games, but as the second-best player on the Bucks, it’s inexcusable to have this many no-shows.
For the Bucks to win, Middleton needs to become the lethal scorer from the end of the Nets and Bucks series. Jrue Holiday isn’t helping out whatsoever on the offensive side, but he’s still the third option. Middleton is the clear second option behind Giannis Antetokounmpo, but the Greek Freak cannot win this series alone.
We can sit here and draw up offensive strategies where Middleton can exploit the Suns’ defense. If the Bucks can get Deandre Ayton into foul trouble, then Middleton can put Ayton’s backups (Frank Kaminsky and Jalen Smith) into pick and rolls and either create easy jump shots or get to the foul line.
That being said, it comes down to consistency. If Middleton can shoot over 40% from the field and score more than 25 points, the Bucks will win games. If he doesn’t, then it could be a short series.
Middleton has been good with his team’s back against the wall all playoffs. Let’s see which player shows up for Game 3 on Sunday night.