Tuesday September 13th, 2016

All of the tools are there for Middleton to carve out a living as a traditional support wing. Yet layered within his game are also the qualities of a prolific shot creator—the functional handle, the fluid pick-and-roll game, and far better one-on-one skills than his reputation suggests. The relatively anonymous Middleton scored in isolation at a volume and efficiency similar to Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry, and Isaiah Thomas last season, according to Synergy Sports. He did so while doubling as just the kind of unassuming floor spacer Milwaukee needed to flank Giannis Antetokounmpo and balance its most effective lineups. Middleton ranks this high on our list because he makes that balance look easy. Rare are the wings who can take over when called, step back when needed, and defend effectively throughout. Middleton qualifies, and the proportional dimensions of his game render the 25-year-old as one of the most universal players on our list. Any team could welcome Middleton comfortably into their operation and find a perfect role for him. His style plays fast or slow, big or small. All that Middleton really needs is time on the floor to work. Milwaukee obliged last season and, in the broad applications of Middleton’s game, wound up playing him more than any other player on the roster. Some are just too useful in too many situations to take off the floor for long. (Last year: No. 45)

+ Quality wing defender with a bothersome, 6-11 wingspan
+ Managed to juice up his scoring game at no real cost to his shooting efficiency
Kind of a crummy rebounder relative to his size
Hasn’t yet carried a significant load for an above-average offense

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