8. Khris Middleton, Milwaukee
If it weren’t for C.J. McCollum explosion last season, Middleton would’ve been able to make a case for Most Improved Player. The 6’8 swingman showed tremendous improvement for a Bucks team that underachieved and emerged as the go-to scorer when there wasn’t one. With an average of 18.2 points per game, Middleton was the roster’s leading scorer, and his 4.2 assists put him third behind Michael Carter-Williams and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Thanks to his big body, he poses a mismatch against any shooting guard he matches up against and, despite not being a frequent attack of the basket, his efficiency is great because he’s such a threat from the perimeter. He’s also a decent post player, but where he makes his money is from the free throw line and out. Middleton is one of the NBA’s best mid-range players, consistently around the 40-45 percent mark, which puts defenses in a pickle because that part of the game is almost a lost art.
Defensively, his versatility makes him a tremendous asset, and it allows Jason Kidd to play around with the sets a bit–he can play big and match up with forwards, and he can play small and bother either guard position. Oddly, Milwaukee was lackluster on that end of the floor, but Middleton was able to keep his own against some very tough competitors.
Next: Bradley Beal