Bucks

Connaughton Making Big Impact in Time of Need

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This past offseason, former Trail Blazer swingman Pat Connaughton signed a two year, $3.4 million contract with the Milwaukee Bucks. At the time, this signing was widely viewed as a depth signing, but now, it seems like a steal.

The second year of his deal in not guaranteed, but he has certainly earned it this season. This season, Connaughton is averaging 6.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists over 20.3 minutes per game– all of which are career highs. He is also shooting 46% from the field and 32.8% from deep.

Pat is deadly on the offensive end. He can score from all over the floor with a smooth stroke from deep and an incredible leaping and dunking ability.

Two-Sport College Athlete

Connaughton attended Notre Dame and was a part of both the basketball and baseball teams at the school. After his junior season, Pat was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles with the 121st overall pick (4th round). Many believe he would have been picked higher if it weren’t for his commitment to return to Notre Dame for his senior season to play basketball. He signed with the Orioles, and was allowed to play his final season with Notre Dame.

Although Connaughton ultimately decided to pursue the NBA over professional baseball, the Orioles still own his contractual rights through the 2020 season. He did play with the Orioles Class-A affiliate Aberdeen IronBirds, but left the team in July of 2014 to return to Notre Dame for his senior season of basketball. While playing baseball, Pat was throwing fastballs in the upper 90’s.

Pre-NBA Draft

Something many people not familiar with Pat Connaughton might not know is that he has one of the highest vertical jumps ever recorded in NBA combine history. He registered a 44-inch vertical, higher than well known leapers like Vince Carter, Nate Robinson and many others.

NBA Career

Trail Blazers

Connaughton was drafted by the 2nd round of the 2015 NBA draft by the Brooklyn Nets but was subsequently traded to Portland on draft night. He spent three seasons in Portland, with the first two years barring him from playing baseball in the contractual agreement. Pat averaged just 3.7 points per game and shot 42.1% from the field over this span. He didn’t see significant playing time until his final season with the team, but he showed flashes of being a good role player that season. After his third season, the Blazers did not extend his contract, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Fit With the Milwaukee Bucks

Pat is enjoying the best season of his career in his first season with Milwaukee, and a lot of that is thanks to coach Budenholzer’s scheme. Bud’s whole plan is revolved around: spacing. All five players on the floor line up on the perimeter, often with a ball handler (normally Giannis Antetokounmpo or Eric Bledsoe) at the top. Both of those ball handlers are incredible slashers, and know how to break down a defense and get to the rim. When defenses collapse on the ball handler driving to the rim, they find the open man outside. That is where Connaughton comes in.

The Bucks’ roster is loaded with shooters, and Pat is just one of them. But what makes him so unique is that he can also get to the rim with ease. If he receives the ball on the perimeter, he is just as deadly to the defense if he decides to pull up or if he decides to blow by the closing out defender and dunk on their heads.

Photo: Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

Another interesting tidbit about Pat’s athleticism and dunking ability is that, as of March 19th, despite a significantly smaller role than the other two mentioned players, Connaughton has more dunks than both Donovan Mitchell and Russell Westbrook, who are both well known, very good dunkers.

Hot Streak

Connaughton has been on fire lately, especially since Malcolm Brogdon went out with a foot injury. Since Brogdon’s injury on March 15th, Pat is averaging 10.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.1 steals per game while shooting 50.6% from the field and 44.2% from deep.

Connaughton may struggle to get playing time in when it comes to the playoffs. The Bucks roster is loaded with swing men like Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, Sterling Brown, Tony Snell and Pat himself. Still, he is more than capable of taking on a lot of minutes in the postseason if his number is called.

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About Nick Niles

I'm Nick Niles! I was born in Green Bay Wisconsin, raised in Appleton Wisconsin, and now I'm back in Green Bay at UW-GB studying Political Science and Public Administration. I have been a huge Bucks fan for as long as I have been alive, and I'm also passionate about writing. Twitter: @Bucks_Deluxe | @Nilesmania

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