2013 Player Profiles: Raduljica, Middleton, and Wolters

Miroslav Raduljica and Nate Wolters during a preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. (AP Photo/Dave Weaver)
Miroslav Raduljica and Nate Wolters during a preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. (AP Photo/Dave Weaver)

b5dWho: Miroslav Raduljica

Role: Scoring big guy that will play 15 games

What can he do: Last year, Raduljica averaged 14 points in 23 minutes during Azomash Mariupol’s run to the Ukrainian Superleague finals. He is very accomplished on offense with the strength, footwork and touch that almost makes him the best Bucks’ best low-post player by default. He is also very confident in his mid-range shot and might just shoot a three if he gets the chance.

How can he make it in the league: Raduljica averaged six rebounds per game last season. That’s an underwhelming number, but it’s good enough. This is an extremely odd thing to say about a post player, but rebounding isn’t that important for Raduljica. He only needs to rebound enough to justify any playing time he gets. With his offense, he only needs to get above Ekpe Udoh rebounding numbers.

With his size and strength, he shouldn’t cede any ground in the low post in his one-on-one matchups. His major concern should be team defense. It might take him two to three years for him to catch up with the complexities of NBA defense. KL handles this better in an earlier post about Raduljica, but doesn’t look anywhere near ready to handle NBA-level pick-and-rolls

What can Zaza teach him: The one meme from all of Raduljica’s interviews is “what can Zaza teach you?” Obviously, Raduljica answers this in the nicest, PR-friendly way possible. But why even ask this question to begin with? What about what Larry Sanders can teach him? Or Ersan Ilyasova? Or Luke Ridnour? Or Caron Butler? There are plenty of veterans that can offer help.  This question is only asked because they’re both Eastern European centers. Georgia and Serbia are nowhere near each other and have completely different cultures and languages. I would know. I am a two-time Urban Middle School Geography Bee third-place finisher.

Spirit Animal: Hopefully, he is The Big Show, but he could end up being Andre the Giant. Yes, Andre was affable and beloved, but he could never move well for a big man.

Additional Reading: Everything, and I mean literally everything you ever need to know about Miroslav Raduljica was written earlier this summer by KL.


kWho: Khris Middleton

Role: Low-usage defensive specialist

What can he do: Even with a year of pro ball under his belt, Middleton has had very little opportunity to provide any concrete evidence of what he’s capable of. He only averaged 17 minutes across 27 games last season. So the following conclusions are based off of a very small sample size.

Middleton is 6-foot-7 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan. In limited playing time, he used that length to disrupt shooters – allowing only 0.88 points per possession according to Synergy. He was also excellent in defending the pick-and-roll – allowing only 0.58 points per possession.

Middleton was also moderately successful as in spot-up situations. He had a 37.8 3P% in spot-up situations.

How can he make it in the league: In college, Middleton was a mid-range shooter that excelled in isolation. If this was the ‘70s or 80s, Middleton could be a very good role player. Those skills are completely unfeasible in today’s league. If he wants to make it, then he needs to do everything that he did well last season (outlined above), do it better, do more of it, and do it efficiently.

Will he make it: Probably not. If you’re the type of person that believes in learning on the job, then there is no situation where it wouldn’t be a better idea to play Giannis Antetokounmpo over Middleton. Even if the Larry Drew believes it is better to have Antetokounmpo learn from the bench, the opportunities for Middleton will be very limited. His big break will not be coming with the Bucks.

Spirit Animal: mid-2000s James Posey

Additional reading: Mitch has a great scouting report on Middleton.


2013 NBA Draft Combine, Day 3

Who: Nate Wolters

Role: 3s on 3s on 3s on 3s

What can he do: Wolters is a baller. He’s not very athletic and doesn’t have good length for his size. He makes up for it by having every skill that you want in a scoring point guard. He isn’t bothered by pressure. He’s patient. He has a good floater. He can run the pick-and-roll well. Plus, he’s big for his position and can shoot. He is always under control. If everything works out for him, he’ll be the super version of Luke Ridnour.

How can he contribute: Despite all of the nice things said about Wolters above, if he gets a lot of time running the offense, then this season will have been a complete failure. It won’t just be a failure from a wins perspective, but it will be a sign that the Brandon Knight experiment has failed spectacularly.

I would like to see Wolters work beside Ridnour off the bench. Yes, that backcourt pairing has no quickness and won’t be able to guard anyone, but neither can the rest of the guards besides Brandon Knight. Ridnour isn’t the player he was in 2009, but he can still work well with bigger, younger PGs. Ridnour’s drive-and-kick game will give Wolters plenty of opportunities to spot-up. This will still give him some opportunities to handle the ball.

Goals: Be better than Gary Neal because Gary Neal is incredibly mediocre.

Spirit Animal: Hawkeye. He’s a normal guy with a few good skills, fighting superheroes with a basic long-range arsenal. Also, it’s my favorite comic book.

Additional material: Here is Wolters scoring 53 of his team’s 80 points against IPFW.

Categories: Player Profiles

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  1. I think when the season starts, we will see a lot of Khris Middleton due to Carlos being injured and Giannis Antetokounmpo won’t get a lot of minutes right away. Middleton will put up numbers that force Larry Drew to keep him in the rotation.

  2. My understanding: Nate isn’t really all that good of an outside shooter. Hope I’m wrong, because I think he needs to be a sharpshooter to make it in the NBA.

    Just a hunch: Khris Middleton is already good, and going to get better. I’d like to see him get a chance, 15-25 minutes per game.

    Confused about Giannis: Looking at last season, Larry broke through, but it was his third year. Tobias wasn’t deemed worthy of decent minutes in his second season by anyone on this site, and no one seemed to care that he was traded. Also, no one on this site seemed to care that John Henson wasn’t getting decent minutes in his rookie year, including when I called for him get significant time in the playoffs against the Heat. I might be exaggerating a bit, but check the archives.
    The point is why would we think Giannis is ready for this season, which seems inconsistent with the past just described. Same with Nate.
    Actually, I like the idea of the Bucks playing young guys if they are even close to being ready — maybe not big minutes but in the 20-minute range. So if Giannis and Nate are at all ready, then let’s see ’em play. Again, it’s just that it would be strange to see a push for Giannis now after such apathy for Tobias then. I realize Ian and some of the fans on this site might not have been around last year. Perhaps there isn’t a push for Giannis to play just now, and I’m sensing a sentiment that isn’t really there. Just wondering if there might be inconsistent thinking, or maybe not.

    • Not deemed worthy of decent minutes? I’ve been posting he deserved playtime since his rookie year. The Bucks missed out on Tobias. They didn’t like that he was a slower 3 and no way he’d take over LRM’s spot at 3 or 4. He’s always been an extremely strong shooter. Look it up, you’ll find posts of me cursing the Bucks for not utilizing him since his rookie season I’ve made those posts. I even further got banned off Bucks facebook page after I over reacted on the Tobias trade. There were a few other people who completely agreed to my post. Giannas will end up being a hybrid “point” four style. The Bucks won’t make the same mistake they did with Tobias. But they did give up one of the sweetest shooting forms I’ve seen in a long time. I usually get excited about all Bucks picks. So maybe I can’t say I told you so, as though I foresaw the future with Tobias Larry and Henson. But I sure as hell was a fan of those guys as soon as I saw WHY they were taken. I just hope they stop discarding players for a “win now” attitude. Middle of the pack is fine. But, giving perennial all star talent(which Tobias was said to be on draft day). One thing is for sure. Anytime you see Giannas Henson and Lar out on that court. You’re going to see lots of deflections, rejections, and tips. Go Buckaroo’s

      • Please pardon me, William, if I missed your comments on Bucksketball last season, which is quite possible. That’s why I wrote that I might be exaggerating a bit, since my memory can be faulty. More importantly, I’m glad to have you as a fellow traveler in the appreciation of Tobias, which I still think has been a tiny circle on this site, at least in the past. Since we probably can’t get him back, I agree with you that the key is to not make the same mistake with young guys in the future. Although I’ve been a big skeptic about the pick of Giannis, I say give him a chance as soon as he’s ready, even this year. I hope he does great.

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  4. “I am a two-time Urban Middle School Geography Bee third-place finisher.”

    And you thought acquiring all that knowledge was a waste of your time back then.

  5. I think Middleton has Michael Redd type of ability. He seems to be a smart shot selector. He seems to be far more athletic than Redd. Let’s face it, Redd was never a winner. He is one of the best shooters of the last couple decades. Only surpassed by the likes of Kobe Durant and Melo. Redd was so good offensively in his day he was a top 10 offensive player. If he had been a better passer, top 5. There’s a reason why LeBron begged for him to come to Cleveland. Do I think Middleton will replicate Redd’s stats to the tooth? No, well at least I hope not. If he averages 20 ppg at any time in his career as a first option on offense… well… that team better have an amazing defense or it will never win. He is only in his second year. Seems more gritty on the D than Redd. However, seems to make more mistakes offensively. Only youtube clips and preseason games to go off. But he sure seems like he’ll be a very very useful roleplayer for a 3 and D team. He could even be sixth man recipient one day.