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The All-Star Snub No-One is Talking About

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As fans everywhere take to twitter to protest the absence of guys like Kemba Walker, Ben Simmons, and Chris Paul from the All-Star teams, there is one player that many forget to even mention in the snub conversation.

This player has had two 40+ point performances and a triple double thus far. This player was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week last week. This player is putting up per game averages of 20.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists on 46% shooting.

No, these are not the numbers of OKC’s Paul George, who many believed to be the biggest snub of this year’s All Star absentees before DeMarcus Cousins ruptured his achilles.

NBA.com

This is the stat line of Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks, who is silently putting together one of the better statistical outputs in the entire NBA. Middleton is 1 of only 6 players in the league who are averaging over 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists per game while shooting above 35% from three point land.

Who are the other 5, you might ask? That would be James Harden, LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and DeMarcus Cousins.

While his numbers alone push him into the bracket of elite players, he is light years behind his counterparts in terms of all-star voting and general recognition from the basketball community. Most of the time, when an all-star caliber player gets left entirely out of the spotlight, it is due to the team’s poor record overshadowing an individuals accomplishments. But in the case of Middleton, the Bucks currently sit at 5 games above .500 and are capable of competing with any team in the league.

So, why then was Middleton utterly excluded from any All-Star discussion? Khris’ former coach, Jason Kidd is just as baffled as the rest of us, stating, “He goes unnoticed. For whatever reason, he’s underrated, so he doesn’t get a lot of attention, and he just goes about his business. … He gives a lot of people confidence when he’s on the floor.”

It is borderline uncanny for someone who persistently impacts games like Middleton to go so unrecognized. Especially because Middleton is a Swiss-Army knife of a second option: He makes ridiculous shot attempts look easy, tosses dimes off the dribble, can match up with the 1-4 on any given night, and spaces the floor with a lethal stroke from behind the arc. It’s almost impossible to find a glaring flaw in Middleton’s game, and yet to voters he is as irrelevant as flip-phones.

Sporting News

Maybe its Middleton’s personality that allows him to fly under the radar. He imitates Kawhi Leonard in his curious ability to stay out of the media spotlight. Maybe its an unavoidable reality of playing in the shadow of his superstar teammate from Greece. Or maybe its his lack of flare and electricity that normally constitutes an All-Star. Sure, he hits the contested fade-away jumper at a level of consistency few can match, and his niche for draining difficult shots is highly coveted, but these aren’t the type of plays shown on late night Sports Center and trending on Twitter the next day. All Star votes are often garnered on high-flying dunks and breathtaking blocks, and unfortunately Middleton just doesn’t fit the bill, especially playing in small-market Milwaukee.

Khris Middleton’s snub from the original All-Star squads seemed reasonable–that is until the injury bug infected the teams like a plague, and a number of questionable replacements were chosen over Middleton. The most perplexing of these replacement All-Stars is Goran Dragic of the Miami Heat, who is averaging 17.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.7 apg, and shooting 43.7% from the field in comparison to Middleton’s 20.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, and 46.6% mark from the field.

With the clear advantage in offensive statistics as well as efficiency favoring Middleton, teammate John Henson took to twitter to show his disapproval of the All-Star replacements.

The only Buck that doesn’t appear to be bothered by the lack of attention seems to be Middleton himself: “I was a late bloomer coming out of high school; same thing with college,” Middleton told Bleacher Report. “I know what I mean to my team, so to tell you the truth, I really don’t care what outsiders think about my game—if I’m underrated or overrated or whatever. I’m just gonna do my job and do what my team needs me to do.”

But even if Middleton isn’t part of the All-Star festivities in Los Angeles, he is going to be a key factor on a dangerous Bucks team looking to inflict damage come playoff time. With the return of Jabari, Milwaukee’s offense could reach an elite level with the Bledsoe-Middleton-Parker-Antetokoumnpo quartet offering as much offensive firepower as any team in the East. And nothing makes up for an All-Star game snub like winning a series in April.

 

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About Logan Collien

From Madison, WI Twitter: @lcollien

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