Khris Middleton, a valuable part of the Milwaukee Bucks backcourt, will be sidelined for six months after sustaining a hamstring injury in pre-season play. Although the Bucks did not have a particularly strong showing to finish out their 2015-16 NBA season, optimism has permeated the organization. The lengthy starting five that the Bucks run, with Giannis Antetokounmpo at point guard, was poised to be a dark-horse playoff contender in the Eastern Conference.
Bucks coach Jason Kidd will have to make drastic adjustments to compensate for the loss of their 2016 leading scorer. Scoring 18 points per game with roughly four rebounds and four assists, Middleton was the focal point of Milwaukee’s offense. 44-40-89 shooting splits were also rather impressive for the fourth-year guard out of Texas A&M.
At this point, Milwaukee’s ability to compensate will come down on the shoulders of the new $100 million man who apparently took less in order to help mold a solid supporting cast. The wild card is also, of course, rookie Thon Maker. The 7’1” Sudanese-Australian basketball player has already dealt with plenty of media scrutiny during and after the 2016 NBA Draft. His age, 19, was a concern for many franchises who considered drafting him. Perhaps fittingly, it was the lengthy Milwaukee Bucks that took a flier on the teenager.
I would be wary before putting any money in online sportsbooks support of the Bucks making a run at the playoffs at this point. That said, if the odds are significantly dampened by the Khris Middleton injury, it could be worth a shot.