As the Bucks have grown into an Eastern Conference contender, the primary focus has been on Giannis Antetokounmpo, who this week earned the first MVP award for a Bucks player since Lew Alcindor in 1974. Yet growing right alongside him has been Khris Middleton, who went from trade toss-in to All-Star.
Middleton plays the league’s most important position, small forward, and is a legitimate two-way player. He has the size and speed to guard any NBA wings, taking the primary assignment on Kawhi Leonard and at times Kyrie Irving this past postseason.
Offensively he is a knockdown shooter from outside, hitting 39 percent from 3-point range in his Bucks career. He can also create with the ball in his hands, moving into his comfort zones in the long mid-range or loping his way to the rim. He is a star player, well deserving of the max contract offers that will be sent his way this offseason.
Middleton will have a number of suitors, from the Brooklyn Nets to the Dallas Mavericks to the Sacramento Kings. If he wants to be the top guy somewhere, or live in a different city than Milwaukee, he will have options. If he wants to stay with the Bucks, they will surely give him the maximum amount to do so, and he will deserve it.
Retaining Middleton is the most important decision in a number of free agency decisions this summer. What happens in 2019 will have shockwaves not only to the 2020 and 2021 NBA titles, but to the Bucks’ recruiting pitch for reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo as well. If ownership will pay, it can keep a contender in Milwaukee and hopefully keep a superstar there as well.