On this installment of the Free Agent Profile Series we’ll cover Milwaukee Bucks: Khris Middleton
The goal of this series is to enable Lakers fans to have an in-depth look at how potential free agents integrate within the current Laker roster.
In each section we’ll cover what Middleton does well and how he fits within the current Lakers roster.
- Shot Distribution – In this section we’ll take a look at where he shoots well from.
- Scoring Preferences – Using data and video, we can get a better idea of how he gets his looks
- Defensive Profile – Here we take a look at how he competes as an individual and team defender
- Miscellaneous – In this section we cover intangible elements like leadership, age, health, and how that fits with the Lakers timeline
When taking a look at the Middleton’s shot volume we can see that most of his volume comes from a few specific areas
- Above the break threes (35%)
- At the rim (29%)
- Outside of the Restricted Area (18%)
Middleton shot especially well on his above the break threes that were directly at the top and left side of the arc. He also did well right outside of the restricted area as well. Despite having a lot of opportunities at the rim, Middleton was significantly below league average on those opportunities.
Integration with the Lakers
When we take a look at the shot frequency for all three of the main scorers for the Lakers the past season we can identify where there may be scoring overlap
- All three scorers do the league average or better at the rim
- LeBron as expected scored effectively from a lot of areas but looking at his shot volume the only overlap with Middleton was on above the break threes
- Davis’ doesn’t conflict with Middleton’s three point shooting preferences but Middleton’s post ups outside the restricted area may conflict as Davis’ operates on either low block
- Kuzma’s shot volume this year came primarily at the rim or on above the break threes. Kuzma’s shot volume on above the break threes are the only areas he mirrors significantly with Middleton
While Middleton’s shot profile is “analytics friendly”, he does show an ability to score right outside of the restricted area which bodes well against defenses that tend to wall off the rim against the Lakers attackers. His above average shooting on threes helps spread the floor for an offense that struggled mightily from beyond the arc.
Let’s take a look at how Middleton got the volume of his shots in areas he preferred to shoot from.
Below is a compilation of his Middleton’s scoring below the free throw line and outside of the restricted area. Khris uses his soft touch to get off floaters, post up smaller defenders, and pull up for jumpers off screens
When it comes to Middleton’s shooting from beyond the arc, his spot up shooting and pull up shooting from beyond the arc would already have him at the top of the Lakers roster
Fit with the Lakers
Middleton’s integration on the offensive end wouldn’t be as much of an issue. Alongside Kuzma, Middleton provides another deep threat to space the floor for Davis and LeBron.
He would give the Lakers another player who can score out of any mid or low post sets that the Lakers are interested in running. Middleton being a quality pull up and above the break shooter doesn’t conflict with the scoring areas that LeBron and Ingram would operate out of.
When taking a look at the starters with the highest scoring frequency this past season for the Lakers by play type it becomes easier to visualize inserting Middleton in for Kuzma
Middleton’s integration with the Lakers offense would be fairly easy as his scoring style would immediately boost the lack of effectiveness in spot up possessions.
Middleton’s height and soft touch would also allow him to utilize screens from Laker big men compared to the Bucks who would leave their bigs out on the perimeter.
Defensive Profile & Fit
Most of Khris’ defensive prowess tends to happen on the perimeter. His long arms catch ball handlers off guard on their drives and make him an effective help defender off the ball.
Milwaukee’s defensive philosophy involves strong closeouts on the perimeter and a swarming attack on ball handlers in the midrange area. Khris functions exceptionally well in that swarming role and is great at moving his feet on the perimeter to stay with offensive players.
Most of Middleton’s defensive percentiles put him in the same tier as the current Lakers starters. He doesn’t do anything exceptionally better than other starters but does perform better against the pick and roll then most of the roster.
Middleton doesn’t carry any off the court troubles or attitude issues so there isn’t any concern there. Milwaukee has a big advantage in their ability to offer Middleton the 5 year / 190M and for a second round pick it is hard to see Middleton turn it down. At 27 years of age, any team would get Middleton through the “prime” years of his career.
It seems almost a no brainer decision for the Bucks to offer the full max to Middleton especially since they can offset the additional cost by waiving Hill’s non guaranteed next year and save 18M.
In the off chance the Bucks low ball Middleton or he wants a change of venue, he shouldn’t have any issues finding a team to offer a 4 year max.
While the Bucks continue to make their way through the Eastern Conference under Coach Budenholzer’s spacing philosophy, a big part of their success can be attributed to Middleton’s controlled play. The Lakers would undoubtedly benefit from his offensive profile as well.
Khris’ excellent touch outside of the restricted area and quality three point shooting is an easy complement to any team like the Lakers that is heavily reliant on getting to the rim.
He also fits the profile of the “really good but not quite great” tier player that often snags a max contract in a limited market. Evaluating whether he can continue to improve his play is a tough decision that Milwaukee will have to make. With the Lakers being part of the buyer’s market this summer, Middleton may become a legitimate fallback option for the purple and gold.