With Khris Middleton out for six months, the Bucks look for a replacement.
By: Jim Boyce
The Milwaukee Bucks were dealt a huge blow before their season even began when Khris Middleton went down with a torn hamstring which required surgery. While not necessarily a guy fans notice on the highlight reels, Middleton was highly productive and the Bucks clear go to guy at the end of games. Barring a major trade that brings in a shooting guard, the Bucks will be depending on a few players to try and fill the void left by Middleton. None more so than 2015 first round pick Rashad Vaughn.
Vaughn clearly was not ready for the NBA as a rookie. He struggled immensely and will need to improve in every area in order for the Bucks to achieve the goals they have as a team. No one expects Vaughn to come in and match the numbers Middleton put up last season, or even play the minutes Middleton accrued, but it is a realistic expectation of Vaughn to improve his efficiency. When the starting five takes the floor, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker will be the ones whom the bulk of the scoring load will fall upon. In an ideal scenario, the threat they offer will mean open looks beyond the arc for Matthew Dellavedova and Vaughn. Vaughn needs to hit these jumpers the way he did in college.
Jason Kidd had a lot of positive things to say about the offseason Vaughn had but unfortunately it has yet to translate to on court success. Vaughn shot 1 for 7 in the preseason opener at Chicago, this after shooting 24.2% beyond the arc during summer league play earlier this year. On the bright side Vaughn is still only 20 and his effort and love of the game do not seem to be an issue. The hope remains that with more experience the NBA game will slow down for Vaughn and the three point shots will fall more often.
Certainly there are others who can help replace Khris Middleton. We wrote after the draft about the positive things Malcolm Brogdon can bring to the team, and he certainly will be expected to play a role right away given the current circumstances. Jason Terry, a pro’s pro, will likely provide more value than expected on the court as well. However it is important to remember that Brogdon is a 2nd round rookie facing a big adjustment to the NBA game, and Terry is a 17 year vet who simply will not hold up playing starters minutes every night. The man with the first shot at replacing Middleton is Vaughn, and going into his second season now he is the one the Bucks need to hold down the fort.
As the 17th pick in 2015 draft the expectation for Vaughn was never that he would become an All-Star. The NBA draft is usually a hit or miss affair after the top handful of picks but it should be reasonable to expect Vaughn to at least carve out a role as a solid rotational player. After his rookie season Vaughn had been a little bit of an afterthought, but if he can realize his potential he adds an exciting piece to the already impressive young core here in Milwaukee.