The Bucks have gotten off to a strong start this season without Middleton, going 15-5 in their first 20 games. Middleton has been out recovering from wrist surgery that he had in the offseason.
ESPN Sources: Milwaukee Bucks All-Star forward Khris Middleton plans to make his season debut vs. the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday (ESPN, 7:30 PM ET). Middleton has been recovering from July surgery on his left wrist. The Bucks are 15-5, second in the East.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 1, 2022
This is a great sign for Milwaukee, as Middleton is arguably the team’s best shooter and No. 2 offensive option to Giannis Antetokounmpo. With Middleton, Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday all healthy, the Bucks are one of the best teams in the NBA.
Last season, Middleton averaged 20.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game while shooting 44.3 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from beyond the arc. He’s averaged at least 20.1 points per game in four of the last five seasons for Milwaukee.
The Bucks are hoping that the return of Middleton will propel them to the top spot in the Eastern Conference and eventually another NBA title. Milwaukee currently trails Boston in the East, but it did pick up a big win over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.
Los Angeles will have its hands full with Middleton back in the lineup on Friday, but it is coming off a dominant win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday. The team’s confidence is likely high.
The Lakers started the season with a 2-10 record in their first 12 games, but the team has really turned things around as of late. Los Angeles has won six of its last eight games and currently sits in the No. 13 spot in the Western Conference.
It will be interesting to see how Lakers head coach Darvin Ham decides to defend Milwaukee with so many strong offensive players on the floor. It’s possible that Anthony Davis matches up with Antetokounmpo while LeBron James finds himself guarding Middleton.
If the Lakers want to be a playoff team this season, they are going to need to show that they can compete with the NBA’s best teams, and beating Milwaukee on the night of Middleton’s return is a good place to start.