Khris Middleton has emerged as a long-term solution for the Milwaukee Bucks at shooting guard. Middleton is a two-way player favored by analytics.
Middleton is sixth among all NBA players in Real Plus-Minus, which attempts to measure a player's impact on team performance. Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and LeBron James are the only players ahead of Middleton.
The Bucks would like to re-sign Middleton this summer in restricted free agency.
"Right now I think the main improvement in my defense has just been the coaches," Middleton said, crediting coach Jason Kidd and his staff. "They've been teaching me defensive schemes, how to guard guys, how to use my length.
"I give all the credit to them and then my teammates having my back. I was watching film during the summer. We do our principles to make sure I stay straight and everybody else stays straight on it."
Middleton believes his length at shooting guard gives him an advantage.
"I'm a lot taller and longer than guys, so it's just using my length and making it tougher on them," Middleton said. "I don't have to be into them all the time and fouling them."
"He's accepted the challenge to get better," Kidd said. "He's gotten better in all phases of his game, not just being known as a shooter but defensively. And he's starting to be more vocal.
"You would probably say he's one of the quiet guys. But now he's taking a little bit more of that leadership role."
Middleton was acquired by the Bucks in the same deal that brought point guard Brandon Knight from Detroit in the summer of 2013, in exchange for Brandon Jennings.