Milwaukee Bucks In Danger Of Squandering Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Prime If They Don’t Sign Khris Middleton, Upgrade Bench

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

During a recent segment on ESPN, NBA analyst Bobby Marks broke down some glaring needs the Bucks need to address to fully capitalize on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s prime.

 “Once you remove Khris Middleton from the lineup, it’s Giannis on an island and hopefully you can get 25 points from Jrue Holiday, because your supporting cast is not good enough to get to a conference final without Khris Middleton.”

 “There’s a couple of focuses here, the one is certainly Middleton, as far as what do you do with Khris Middleton? Out for the playoffs from Game 2 in that Chicago Bulls series … he’s extension-eligible.”

 

 

“Here’s my question, there’s a little bit of regression we’re starting see with Khris Middleton, certainly three years in a row of averaging 20 points a game, shot just 39% off the dribble, down from 45.9% the last two years…turns 33 in first year of the extension, be careful as far as what number you’re thinking about,” Marks continued. 

The Milwaukee Bucks were dealt a serious blow when the stalwart two-way wing was lost to a sprained MCL in Game 2 of their opening round playoff series versus the Chicago Bulls.

While the team eventually defeat the Bulls in five games, they’d come up short against the eventual Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics in a hard-fought seven-game series. Giannis did all he could but ran out of gas in Game 7, where the Bucks were blown out.

That series loss immediately showed how vital Middleton is and was during the Bucks’ championship run the previous season. And it showed us that the Bucks lack real scoring help minus Bobby Portis and Pat Connaughton.

 

 

Middleton has two years left on his current deal, but he’s “Robin,” to Giannis’ “Batman.” We saw what happened when he wasn’t available. The Bucks have to lock him up to a multi-year extension beyond 2022 and 2023.

While Marks stated that Middleton showed a tad bit of regression last season, he’s still a vital reason why Giannis re-upped in “Cream City” rather than explore his many other options. 

 

 

Bench Needs An Upgrade

Key cogs off the bench Bobby Portis and Pat Connaughton played well minus Middleton, but even they even ran out of gas against a bigger and more athletic Celtics team. Connaughton is a new age “3 and D,” player who this week exercised his player option at $5.7 million to return for the 2022-23 season.

Portis is expected to decline his player option to hopefully land a bigger deal. His preference is to stay in Milwaukee, and the Bucks need him to re-sign, as he provides size and range shooting from the frontcourt, something they lack sorely even with Giannis, who does his best near or attacking the basket.

The Bucks are hoping players like Jordan Nwora, Jevon Carter, and Grayson Allen continue to grow as they provide an infusion of youth to the roster. Also newly drafted wing Marjon Beauchamp is a real shot in the arm with his length and athleticism.

 Bucks Will Be Eastern Conference Favorites Next Season

After dealing with many setbacks last season, and still taking the reigning Eastern Conference champions a full seven games without Khris Middleton, the Bucks should feel good about their possibilities next season.

 

Now they need to stay healthy and take full advantage of having the game’s most dominant force on their roster in the “Greek Freak.” Head coach Mike Budenholzer has that elusive championship, but he’d like nothing more than to add another to his résumé.