Fantasy Basketball: How Khris Middleton's Injury Impacts the Bucks

Middleton is set to miss a huge chunk of the season. What does that mean for Milwaukee?

In a big blow to the upstart Milwaukee Bucks, Khris Middleton will be out for the next six months after tearing his hamstring.

Middleton was the Bucks’ leading scorer last season and is the team's best three-point shooter, with an average of 40 percent from beyond the arc over the last two seasons.

His loss for essentially the season is going to create a huge hole to fill for Milwaukee, but it also might consolidate some fantasy value for these young Bucks and give Giannis Antetokounmpo the chance to be a top fantasy player this season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo as a Top-Five Pick

Right now, ESPN has Antetokounmpo as their 14th-ranked player in upcoming fantasy basketball drafts, but based on what he did at the end of last season and Middleton's injury, Antetokounmpo needs to be moved up on fantasy basketball draft boards.

After Russell Westbrook and James Harden, who likely will be drafted first and second this season, there are a bunch of guys who could go number-three overall.

Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Anthony Davis will all be talked about as top-three picks, but Curry and Durant will be splitting the workload for the Golden State Warriors, James will pace himself during the regular season, and Davis is a constant injury risk.

Antetokounmpo should be in the mix as a result.

Not only did Antetokounmpo average 18.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 7.2 assists last season after the All-Star Break, but according to NBA Wowy, Antetokounmpo thrived last season when Middleton was off the court.

His points per possession and points per shot increased, while his true shooting percentage, usage rate, and effective field goal percentage went way up as well.

Giannis Antetokounmpo 2015-16 eFG% TS% USG PPP PPS
With Khris Middleton 52.1 56.4 23.2 1.06 1.13
Without Khris Middleton 56.5 60.8 26.0 1.13 1.22

With these numbers, Antetokounmpo should be ranked between three and five in year-long fantasy hoops draft boards with the likes of Westbrook, Harden and Towns. If he falls further than that, he is a huge value towards the end of the first round.

Upgrade Jabari Parker Slightly

Not only does the Middleton injury make Antetokounmpo a top fantasy pick, but it also gives some upgrades to other players, most notably Jabari Parker

This is a big season for Parker. He needs to stay healthy, and he needs to show some improvement if he wants an Antetokounmpo-like extension next summer.

However, I don’t think he warrants a major upgrade with the news of the Middleton injury. Here are his numbers with and without Middleton on the court, per NBA Wowy.

Jabari Parker 2015-16 eFG% TS% USG PPP PPS
With Khris Middleton 49.7 53.3 21.4 1.07 1.06
Without Khris Middleton 46.0 48.8 23.6 1.00 0.98

Parker was actually better with Middleton on the floor last season despite his slight bump in usage rate without him. While he improved some overall last season, Parker will have to become the second scorer behind Antetokounmpo this season now that Middleton will miss most of the regular season.

If Parker can become the second option in Milwaukee while improving his career 49.8% effective field goal percentage, he might be in store for a big season. However, the loss of Middleton might hurt his efficiency numbers.

Upgrade Matthew Dellavedova

Middleton accounted for a usage rate of 23.0% last season, and while Antetokounmpo and Parker will suck up most of that this season, newly signed Matthew Dellavedova is now going to have to play a much bigger role.

He won’t have the ball in his hands as much with Antetokounmpo on the floor, Dellavedova played a similar role in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ offense with LeBron James on the court last season. Dellavedova was one of only a few players last year who got extended run playing with a point-forward like James, so he knows how to play with a guy like The Greek Freak.

Just take a look at Dellavedova’s stats on the court with James and without James, courtesy of NBA Wowy.

Matthew Dellavedova 2015-16 eFG% TS% USG PPP PPS
With Lebron James 55.0 57.0 13.4 1.10 1.14
Without Lebron James 42.3 44.8 21.0 0.84 0.90

Dellavedova will be relied on primarily as a three-point shooter and defender, but with Middleton down for most of the year, he will end up handling the ball more when Antetokounmpo is off the court.

Along with newly signed Michael Beasley, who was traded by the Houston Rockets for Tyler Ennis, these four players represent the players who should see the biggest bump without Middleton.