On September 20th, word came out that Khris Middleton had completely torn his hamstring, and doctors had given him a 6 month recovery. Fast forward 5 months and Khris Middleton is set to return for the Bucks. During the game against the Denver Nuggets, Middleton joined the Fox Sports Wisconsin crew and announced he was aiming for a return in the February 8th game versus the Miami Heat. This news could not have come at a better time, as the Bucks have lost 10 of their last 12 games.
Khris Middleton (right) looks up at scoreboard during a game vs the Brooklyn Nets
What does this mean for the Bucks? Obviously it will be a process until Middleton is back to season form, but his return and promise is nothing but positive. The overwhelming blemish of this Bucks team is their inability to defend the corner three, giving up roughly 40% from the corners. Khris Middleton, when fully healthy, should be able to help the Bucks there in a major way. Known as a 3-and-D player, Khris should help the spacing of the defense overall. The other thing the Bucks need is a sharpshooter who can help space the floor for Jabari and Giannis. That's where Khris will thrive now, as Giannis and Jabari will be able to draw defenders away and get Khris open looks. Tony Snell, Jason Terry and Mirza Teletovic have been filling that role, but Khris is a step up from any of these players. A 40% three point specialist will undoubtedly be a big addition to this already intriguing Bucks offense.
Khris Middleton lines up to shoot in the 3-Point Contest in Toronto
What should Bucks fans expect? Bucks fans should not go into Wednesday's game versus the Miami Heat expecting many minutes or gaudy numbers. Middleton will probably get somewhere between 5-10 minutes and be eased back into the flow of the game. Sure, Jason Kidd will try getting Middleton his shots, but coming off a torn hamstring is nothing to mess with. After the All-Star break, Middleton may progress into a larger role, but his starting spot will remain in the hands of Tony Snell for the foreseeable future. Snell has been productive in Middleton's role, producing 8.0 PPG, and 3.3 RPG while shooting 45% from the field and 38.5% from long range. Snell is by no means Khris Middleton, but has been a solid replacement and will remain important when moved to the bench.
Khris Middleton (left), Giannis Antetokounmpo (middle) and Jabari Parker (right) get back on defense
It may take time for Khris Middleton to come back to his normal self, but the fact that he is coming back from such a severe injury is exciting for Bucks fans. Although Middleton may not be the cure to all of the Bucks woes, he will definitely help and add a dynamic that this young team hasn't had all season. The Bucks are certainly all in on "Own The Future", but getting a glimpse of this dynamic trio, this year, will be fun to watch.
The Milwaukee Bucks made a move today, sending Miles Plumlee to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Roy Hibbert and Spencer Hawes. If you're a Bucks fan, nothing makes you happier than to see Plumlee gone from the team. Last season, he put up great numbers post-all star break and seemed to be fitting in with the young team well. GM John Hammond was so sure that they agreed on a 4 year, $50 million deal in the offseason. Miles had the starting job at the start of this season and to say the least - he's been nothing but disappointing. He was quickly removed from the starting lineup and is only averaging 8 minutes per game, while contributing 2.6 PPG and 1.7 RPG. Not the numbers you'd expect from a player making $12.5 million a year.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
This trade is nothing but positive for the Bucks. Plumlee did not fit the chemistry of the team and to be honest, took up way too much of our cap space. First, let's talk about Roy Hibbert. Sure, he's not the player he once was but it's definitely a step up from Miles Plumlee. Hibbert brings a veteran presence to a team that needs more leadership, and who knows maybe a change of scenery is all a guy needs to get back to the form we all know he has. Now for Spencer Hawes, this is also a step up from Plumlee. Hawes has all the explosiveness and athleticism that Plumlee had around the basket but he brings a different dynamic with his ability to pop out and shoot the three. The Bucks will never hesitate to add more three point power to their lineup because that is a big thing they lack, especially without Khris Middleton.
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
Obviously, bringing these two guys onto the team will not solve all of Milwaukee's problems. The Bucks are going through a very tough stretch right now, losing 9 of their last 10 games and dropping out of a playoff spot. The offense has lost a lot of its spark and the defense has just been horrendous, but Jason Kidd insists that this is just something you have to go through as a young team. As a Bucks fan, the past two years have been tough to watch but that "Own The Future" phrase gets us through the tough times because at the end of the day, you know the big three of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton will be a part of a contending team in the next couple years. The Bucks are just trying to find the right pieces to build around those three players. They have found two great young players in Thon Maker and Malcolm Brogdon, these two guys will be a part of this team for a long time.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
There's a couple things to be concerned about after this trade. The Bucks now have five centers with Greg Monroe, John Henson, and Thon Maker. This leads me to believe that one of them will be traded at the deadline and personally I'm not ready to see any of those guys get traded. Greg Monroe has gotten back to his true self and is playing his best basketball as a member of the Bucks. John Henson has struggled as of late but is a talented kid with tremendous length, and there's no chance that the Bucks trade Maker. On the bright side, the Bucks will be able to give Jabari Parker a max contract like they did with Giannis in the past offseason, and he deserves it. You know they will take the first chance they get to lock up Jabari with a big contract. It's been another frustrating season for the Bucks to this point, but this trade brings new hope and energy to the team. Being a Bucks fan, there's a lot to be excited about for the second half of the season with these two new players getting comfortable and the return of Khris Middleton.
Second Half Projected Starting Lineup: PG - Dellavedova SG - Middleton SF - Antetokounmpo PF - Parker C - Hibbert
What a great NFL season it has been. Now we are one day away from Superbowl weekend. As shown in the NFC and AFC championships, it seems that these two teams are truly the best of their conferences. The Falcons lead by Matt Ryan who's having a MVP caliber year, takes on the one of the greatest of all time Tom Brady, who has only lost one regular season game this season.
Tom Brady (left) and Matt Ryan (right) chat before speaking to the media
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Both teams offenses have been simply unstoppable. Not only having these great quarterbacks, but the running games of each team are scary. Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman of the Atlanta Falcons have combined for 1,600 yards on the ground this season while adding a combined 19 touchdowns. Not only do they run the ball great, but they ask for the ball in the passing game as well. Coleman and Freeman have combined for nearly 900 yards in the passing game. Have I mentioned Julio Jones yet? This human is an incredible football player. Posting a career high 300 yard game back in October, he has put up 1409 receiving yards this season being 40 yards behind leader TY Hilton. Still, for Jones being in 2nd place in this category he missed two games in December with a toe injury. The man is a beast and will see plenty of targets toward him come Sunday.
#26 Tevin Coleman #24 Devonta Freeman #42 Patrick DiMarco
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Next up is the New England Patriots. It's crazy what this season has been for them. From the Deflate gate suspension for Brady, to finding quarterbacks to get them wins, and lastly Rob Gronkowski's season ending injury it has been quite the ride. Watching them every year it is crazy to see them lose in general. Since Tom Brady's career really started as a starter in 2001, he has gone 207-61. 61 losses in 16 years of playing. The Browns could be awfully close to that number in 4 years. With a .772 winning percentage in his career he is one win away from filling his hand with Superbowl rings. Enough about Brady, this year the Patriots have three outstanding running backs, Legarrette Blount, Dion Lewis, and James White. With Blount being the main "running back" with Lewis and White as the pass catching, play maker type backs. Blount lead the league in touchdowns with 18 in the regular season along 1,161 rushing yards. Settling for field goals is not what the Patriots do and Blount is a huge reason why they get 6 instead of 3. I believe he'll punch in 1-2 touchdowns come Sunday. Lewis and White are the quick smaller running backs for the Patriots. Catching passes from Brady and turning them into first downs is what they have done. Being able to run routes like a receiver adds even more value to them and is a nightmare for defensive cordinators. In the end, this Patriots team is great every year, and for Brady it'd be nice to add another Superbowl win to his resume.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Conclusion: This is a Superbowl featuring two of the strongest offenses to ever step on the field. These NFL playoffs only have had two good games (Green Bay vs Cowboys, Pittsburgh vs Kansas City) and I believe this Superbowl will be one we don't forget. Find some friends, get in front of the television, and watch one of the greatest sport finale of the year!
Prediction: New England Patriots 33 Atlanta Falcons 30