Milwaukee Bucks star Khris Middleton snatched his respect during the 2021 playoffs and can perhaps use his newfound star power to get more endorsement money.
Middleton got more of the national spotlight in the playoffs and especially during the NBA Finals. Giannis Antetokounmpo earned MVP honors, but it did not take away from Middleton’s own performance.
Having helped lead the Bucks to a title, Middleton might be in a position to find new avenues for added cash flow.
Khris Middleton is one of the highest-paid players in the NBA
When it comes to basketball money, Middleton’s financials are just fine.
The Bucks swingman made over $33 million during the 2020-21 season. That salary ranks 15th in the NBA, per ESPN, ahead of superstars such as Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving. Middleton is reaping the benefits of the max deal he signed in the summer of 2019.
Interestingly, that contract prompted a lot of skepticism. The decision to give Middleton the max essentially resulted in the Bucks (conscious of the luxury tax) allowing Malcolm Brogdon to sign an offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers. Did Middleton deserve the money, and was it right for Milwaukee to prioritize re-signing him over Brogdon?
If the past couple of seasons have shown anything, the answer is a resounding “yes.”
Middleton set new career-high marks in nearly every category during the 2019-20 season, averaging 20.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 4.3 assists while also shooting 41.5% from beyond the arc. He practically put up identical numbers this season, averaging 20.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.4 assists.
The 29-year-old upped his production in the playoffs, averaging 23.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 5.1 assists. He gave the Bucks a much-needed shot-creator and was a menace at the end of games.
Milwaukee’s investment in Middleton has paid off, and then some.
Middleton makes next to nothing in endorsement money
Remember how Middleton’s salary tops names like Lillard and Irving? It’s almost irrelevant, considering those guys dwarf him in endorsement money.
Lev Akabas noted Middleton makes the least amount of endorsement of any NBA player that made Sportico‘s Top 100 Highest-Paid Athletes list. He is the only player on that list to make under $1 million in endorsements.
This might not come as the biggest surprise. Middleton doesn’t have a massive following. In fact, he is 51st among NBA players in terms of Instagram followers.
Incredibly, Middleton has flown so far under the radar despite being an All-Star in 2019 and 2020. He has legitimately been one of the best players on a championship contender for years now.
Sure, Milwaukee might be a smaller media market, and Middleton is not overly flashy in anything he does. Still, he has always seemed to deserve more recognition as an elite talent in the NBA.
Basketball fans can’t ignore Middleton’s excellence any longer. Sponsors might jump at the chance to sign him to endorsement deals, as well.
Middleton and the Bucks will go for a repeat
The Bucks will attempt to become the 14th team to repeat as NBA champions. They have the benefit of running it back with most of the same pieces.
Middleton’s contract runs through the 2022-23 season, and he has a $40 million player option in 2023-24. Giannis Antetokounmpo is under contract for the next several seasons after signing the supermax this past winter. Jrue Holiday is hanging around after Milwaukee signed him to a four-year extension. Brook Lopez is also under contract.
Milwaukee has a crown to defend. For now, though, the Bucks will relish in their championship, with unheralded stars like Middleton possibly hoping to enjoy the spoils.
Stats and contract information courtesy of Basketball Reference.