Stephen Jackson on Khris Middleton "Listen to me when I say he's the best player on the Bucks. The boy can flat out get to it and shoot free throws"
The Milwaukee Bucks lead the Eastern Conference Finals 2-1 after a win over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 3 of a series featuring two franchises that don't often find themselves this deep in the playoffs but are nevertheless giving fans a superb series to watch. It almost feels like the NBA version of David and Goliath with Giannis Antetokounmpo and his towering presence looking to do what everyone expects, beating Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks en route to their first NBA finals since 1971. To most people who follow the game, The Greek Freak and Ice Trae are the main protagonists for their respective teams, and rightly so, as one is a two-time league MVP and the other is one of the bright young stars making a mark in this year's playoffs. These are the two players that fans come to watch and those from whom they expect superhuman performances to will their teams to victory so late in the postseason.
Such is not the case for Stephen Jackson, NBA Champion with the San Antonio Spurs and co-host to one of the most authentic podcasts on the air, All the Smoke with Matt Barnes. He claims that he has long thought that it is not Giannis who is the main guy for Milwaukee but his frequently doubted co-star Bucks guard Khris Middleton. Up until Giannis signed his supermax extension last summer, Khris' abilities were often the topic of debate when discussing whether or not Giannis should sign the extension and commit to the Bucks long term. Many argued that Khris did not have the star power that previous champions had as their number two. Michael had Scottie, LeBron had D-Wade, but Giannis only had Khris. It turns out Giannis saw Khris as the running mate he needed, proving that he had enough faith in Middleton to commit to doing this together in Milwaukee, for Milwaukee. So far in these playoffs, Khris is undoubtedly proving to Giannis and the rest of the league that The Greek Freak made the right choice.
To say Khris is the best player on the team is a bit of a stretch and, in fact a moot point. Giannis is a force on both ends of the floor and to reduce his greatness due to an inability to shoot free throws at a high percentage seems foolish. If we followed this logic, we would have the nerve to reduce players' legacies like Shaquille O'Neal and Wilt Chamberlain because of bad free-throw shooting. Giannis does everything else on the floor at an elite level, much like those other two big men did everything required of them and more, and while free throws are critical to the game, they are simply just that, part of the game. That seems to be how most people view this dynamic, at least, except for Kendrick Perkins, who took to the comments section of this post to agree with Captain Jack.
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