Khris Middleton (left wrist surgery) had already ruled himself out for the Bucks’ season opener, but we now know he’ll be out even longer.
Per Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Milwaukee Bucks All-Star Khris Middleton is expected to miss the first few weeks of the regular season as he rehabs from offseason wrist surgery, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Middleton said at Media Day that he did not expect to play in the season opener this week.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 17, 2022
Milwaukee’s season opens Friday, Oct. 21 vs. the visiting Sixers. If he misses exactly two weeks from the opener, he’d miss a total of seven games (including the entirety of a six-game road trip):
- Thursday, Oct. 20 vs. Philly
- Saturday, Oct. 22 @ Houston
- Wednesday, Oct. 26 @ Brooklyn
- Friday, Oct. 28 @ New York
- Saturday, Oct. 29 @ Atlanta
- Monday, Oct. 31 @ Detroit
- Wednesday, Nov. 2 @ Detroit
Middleton’s exact return date is unknown, but he’s been out of a cast for weeks and ESPN’s Jamal Collier reports that “team sources indicated his absence at the start of the season will be measured in weeks, not months.” Even so, it’s clear that the championship-or-bust Bucks won’t take unnecessary risks with their 32-year-old, 3x All-Star.
Milwaukee already knows the pain of life without Middleton, whose 2022-23 postseason was cut short by a left MCL sprain — his absence was a key reason they lost Game 7 vs. the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Last season alone, the Bucks had a 44-22 record (66.4%) with Middleton available, compared to a 7-9 record (43.7%) without him.
They’ll look to avoid a similarly poor record without him to begin 2022-23, a task made more difficult by the absence of fellow wing Pat Connaughton, who is week-to-week with a right calf strain. The all-hands-on-deck situation should shift more minutes to Grayson Allen, Jordan Nwora, and even veteran Wesley Matthews, who re-signed this offseason to provide 3-and-D depth in exactly such situations. Jrue Holiday also enjoyed 4.8% higher usage and 6.6% higher assist rate without Middleton last season, which is worth noting if you’re playing DFS or betting on player props.