After a tremendous start to the 2016-2017 season, the Milwaukee Bucks are beginning to fall back to Earth. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and company closed calendar year 2016 with a surprising .500 mark, but since then, the club has fallen on hard times to the point where they began February on the outside looking in when it comes to the Eastern Conference playoff picture. With that said, the Bucks received a healthy dose of positive news on Friday evening, as standout wing Khris Middleton took to the air and proclaimed a targeted return date of Feb. 8.
Middleton, who has missed the entirety of the season with a brutal hamstring injury, averaged 18.2 points, 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals per game a season ago for the Bucks, and his impact has been sorely missed. Without the 25-year-old wing in the lineup, Milwaukee has struggled to sustain spacing on the offensive end (where Middleton is a career 40 percent shooter from the three-point line), and defensively, the Bucks could certainly use their best perimeter defender to aid in slowing the opposition.
Antetokounmpo has transformed into a full-fledged superstar, and Parker isn’t far behind. To that end, Middleton certainly won’t be on track to become a household name in the near future, but the Bucks desperately need him at full strength to reach their considerable potential, and news that he could be available against the Miami Heat on Wednesday is encouraging on a number of levels. The Bucks are already a lot of fun, and they are even better with a healthy Khris Middleton.