The Milwaukee Bucks are, once again, going to be one of the best teams in the NBA this season. Of course, they have been for the last five seasons, but this year’s team has a different kind of energy surrounding it. It’s the kind of energy that trading for a superstar like Damian Lillard can bring.
Additionally, Milwaukee has a new head coach in Adrian Griffin. This transition from former head coach Mike Budenholzer [hopefully] means a greater emphasis on team defense and better management of the team’s rotation.
One thing is certain, though: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Lillard, and Khris Middleton form one of the best Big Three’s in the league, and one of them believes that all three will have career years in 2023-24.
Milwaukee Bucks Star Khris Middleton Predicts Career Years for Himself, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Damian Lillard
During the most recent episode of “#thisleague Uncut Podcast,” Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes said,
“Khris told me yesterday he expects all three to have a career year. That’s saying a lot.”
Everyone knows the accolades that Lillard and Giannis have achieved in their respective careers up to this point. However, many forget that Middleton himself is a three-time All-Star and the Bucks’ all-time leader in three-pointers made. If all three of those players have career-years, the NBA may see one of the best teams every assembled on the court this year.
What Would a Career Year Look Like for Each Player?
The question is: what would a career year look like for each of these players? Giannis has already won two NBA MVP Awards, and Defensive Player of the Year Award, and was named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team. Similarly, Lillard was also named to that honorable team and has made seven All-Star appearances.
A career year from these players, particularly Giannis and Lillard, would be monstrous.
As good as Giannis was last season when he averaged 31.1 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists to go along with 0.8 blocks and 0.8 steals per game, one could argue it was not as good as his 2019-20 season.
That year, of course, was the season in which he became just the third NBA player ever to win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. He ended the year with averages of 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.0 blocks, and 1.0 steals per game.
A career year for Giannis, then, would likely be close to this stat line with more points per game, thanks to Lillard taking attention off of him on offense. A season of 30+ points per game, 13+ rebounds per game, and 5+ assists per game would be a career year for Giannis. The points and assists will come “easily” enough, but he has not come close to 13.6 rebounds per game since that season.
Lillard is certainly one of the best shooters/scorers in the NBA today. Last season with the Portland Trailblazers, he averaged a career-high 32.2 points per game to go with 4.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game.
But is that the best season of his career? It is certainly up there, but in 2019-20, Lillard averaged 30.0 points, 8.0 assists, and 4.3 rebounds per game. He also averaged 1.1 steals per game that year.
A career year for Lillard in his first season with the Bucks would likely see him score over 30 points per game while averaging more than eight assists. Additionally, taking steps forward on defense under the tutelage of Coach Griffin may make this year Lillard’s best all-around season yet.
Middleton is going to finally be healthy (fingers crossed) for the first time in over a year. The last time he played a full, healthy NBA season (2021-22), he averaged 20.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game. Middleton was also an All-Star that year.
His best season, though, was in 2019-20 (there was something about that year, apparently) when he averaged 20.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. Not only was 20.9 points per game his career-high, Middleton came 0.3% points away from a historic 50/40/90 season. That year, he shot 49.7% overall, 41.5% from three, and 91.6% from the line.
A career season for Middleton, then, would be for him to achieve that 50/40/90 shooting mark. It was last accomplished for the Bucks by Malcolm Brogdon in 2018-19.