Bucks back to basketball profile: Pat Connaughton
With the announcement of the NBA’s 22-team plan to close out the rest of the season, the Milwaukee Bucks are waiting for late July when play restarts in Disney World. It will undoubtedly be an odd postseason experience, but if Milwaukee can be at its best in the bubble then it will be tough to beat.
As coach Mike Budenholzer and the Bucks prepare during this hiatus, FOX Sports Wisconsin will analyze each player on the Bucks and what their role might be in the playoffs.
This edition: Pat Connaughton
A two-sport athlete at Notre Dame, Connaughton was selected in the fourth round of the 2014 MLB draft by the Baltimore Orioles. He appeared in six minor-league games in 2014 before returning to Notre Dame in the fall to continue his basketball career. It worked out. Drafted 41st overall by Brooklyn the following year, Connaughton was traded to Portland and spent the first three years of his career with the Trail Blazers. He signed with Milwaukee as a free agent in 2018 and has found a role as an athletic sparkplug off the bench for Budenholzer.
Connaughton proved to be a perfect fit for Budenholzer’s scheme last season. He can drive, knock down the 3, defend the perimeter and even play above the rim as a 6-foot-5 shooting forward. While he isn’t seeing quite as many minutes in 2019-20 due to the Bucks’ depth, Connaughton continued his consistent play off the bench. His biggest move, though, was finally getting national recognition for his dunking ability. Connaughton put his 44-inch max vertical jump to use in the 2020 NBA dunk contest. While he didn’t advance to the second round, the Notre Dame product put on a show dunking on a pair of Milwaukee MVPs in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Christian Yelich.
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) February 16, 2020
GAME TO REMEMBER
Connaughton went off Oct. 28 against Cleveland — the Bucks’ third game of the season. After collecting a combined 10 points over the first two contests, Connaughton had 14 by halftime. He finished with 17, one off his season high, and was more than efficient – 6-for-8 from the field and 4-for-5 from deep. Connaughton also added four rebounds and four assists for one of his more complete games of the season.
— FOX Sports Wisconsin (@fswisconsin) October 29, 2019
WHAT TO EXPECT THIS SUMMER
Connaughton played a big role in Milwaukee’s opening two rounds of the playoffs last season, averaging 8.4 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 28.2 minutes per game. But when guard Malcolm Brogdon returned for the Eastern Conference finals, Connaughton’s role decreased to 11.7 minutes per contest. That should be different this season. Connaughton has gained the trust of Budenholzer, and his never-ending energy on both sides of the ball could earn him a bigger role in the playoffs than he saw in the regular season.