Charleston native Khris Middleton will be playing in the NBA Finals this year. That predictable prediction comes from his dad, James Middleton.
"Obviously, I have a bias,” James Middleton admits. “But they have a special team that knows how to share the ball.”
He isn’t the only one who has faith in the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bucks bested the Toronto Raptors 108-100 on Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Middleton struggled shooting, but did post a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, along with four assists.
“They have a good chance to do it,” said John Pearson, Middleton’s high school coach at Porter-Gaud. “That team plays well together and it’s just awesome to see how well Khris fits into what they do.”
Bucks’ star Giannas Antetokounmpo is in a two-man race for the 2019 NBA MVP Award, according to most experts. But the Athens, Greece, native isn’t doing it alone.
Middleton has quietly proven to be a legitimate co-star, averaging 18.3 points, 6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game this year.
His name is getting more airtime on ESPN and FOX Sports broadcasts. That goes double for his status in the league, with Middleton making his first NBA All-Star Game this season.
“He’s worked so hard to get to this point and his game just keeps developing,” James Middleton said.
Hard work and development has always been Middleton’s calling card, long before the Detroit Pistons snagged him in the second round of the 2012 draft.
Just ask Mike Turgeon, Middleton’s former coach at Texas A&M. In spring 2008, Turgeon told his staff he needed a tall wing player who could hit 3-pointers at a high clip.
They went searching, and one of his assistants came back with a prospect he found in Charleston. Middleton was a reserved but highly skilled player.
Turgeon followed up by watching video of the Porter-Gaud standout. Instantly, his mind was made up.
“I knew he could be a pro,” Turgeon said. “By his sophomore year, Khris had developed into a great player and he put us on his back a lot of those games.”
James Middleton said his son has always been a quiet guy. But instead of trying to increase his notoriety, his father has always told him to embrace who he is and let his play do the talking.
In Milwaukee's first-round playoff series against Detroit, Middleton scored 22 points with eight assists and five rebounds in one game. Afterward, USA Today did a story about the Bucks' silent star, and asked him about his lack of notoriety despite his elite play.
“I’m pretty mellow, as long as we win,” Middleton said in the April 19 article.
He doubled down on that, keeping the conversation about basketball.
“I know I’m going to get a lot of great looks through the offense. Threes, occasional post-ups, pick-and-rolls every now and then. Just be patient. They need me to be ready when my opportunities come,” he added.
Middleton will likely use his player option this offseason, making him a free agent. He can seek a max deal with Milwaukee, or hit the open market for other suitors.
Regardless of where he plays, the 27-year-old says winning and playing the right way are his priorities. That was evidenced by his late steal in Wednesday's game, followed by an assist that helped secure the first win of the series.