Former Texas A&M Basketball star Khris Middleton wasn’t expected to do much at the NBA level. In fact, after being drafted, he wasn’t even playing in the league. For a large portion of his rookie season, he was playing for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA’s D-League.
Fast forward to 2021 and he’s one of the stars of this year’s NBA Finals. In fact, to take things a step further, he could be a player that is in the running for the Finals MVP award. Here’s why.
Generally speaking, the obvious answer for Finals MVP would be Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Greek Freak. Here’s what his numbers look like in this year’s NBA Finals.
- 32.2 points, 13.0 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.2 blocks
Giannis has been absolutely electric. We’ve become so accustomed to seeing LeBron James put up similar numbers that the Greek Freak’s stat line doesn’t seem as impressive as it once would have. That said, he is the MVP right now.
At this point in time, giving Middleton the MVP over Antetokounmpo would be criminal.
Former Texas A&M Basketball star Khris Middleton’s clutch performances have him in the Finals MVP conversation
Again, at the present moment, you’d have to give the Finals MVP nod to Giannis Antetokounmpo. That said, Middleton is the next guy in line. He’s in the conversation.
Middleton doesn’t have the same scoring numbers as Antetokounmpo, but his scoring has come at the right time. Here’s what the former Aggie Basketball player’s stats look like in this year’s NBA Finals.
- 25.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.0 steals
That’s a really strong stat line, but it doesn’t really measure up to his counterpart’s numbers. That said, Middleton’s ability to shoot the ball has been invaluable for a Bucks team that has a star player who can’t hit shots in the clutch.
Middleton’s 36.6% 3-point shooting percentage and 85.7% free throw percentage help Milwaukee, who struggles to close out games with one of the worst free-throw shooters in the league in the Greek Freak.
Middleton’s Finals MVP argument stems from the idea that he has made timely shots. While he hasn’t been the team’s highest-scoring player, his buckets have turned the tide of the game.
Take game 5 for example. The Bucks had a 14-point lead that was quickly disappearing. That’s when Middleton took over. The former Aggie basketball player hit two consecutive clutch shots, fending off a surging Suns squad. Those six points went a long way in helping Milwaukee take a commanding 3-2 lead.
He’s been doing this all series long too. In game 4, Middleton scored 40 points, 10 of which came in the last 2.5 minutes of the game. In clutch time, nobody has been better than Middleton, which is why he should have a say in the MVP conversation.
In the clutch, he has been elite. Here’s a number from Bleacher Report that will make your eyes pop out of your head.
"And most impressively, he has 14 points in the clutch (defined by the league as the final five minutes of fourth quarters and overtimes that are within five points). Every other player in the Finals has combined for 13."
Say what you want about Giannis, but no player has been more impactful at the right time than Middleton. Without him, the Bucks could have already lost this series.