Pat Connaughton has already become a key rotation player for a Milwaukee Bucks team off to its hottest start in years. In what ways does Connaughton impact the game to help his team win?
It didn’t take long for Pat Connaughton to force himself into head coach Mike Budenholzer’s rotation. After initially sticking with a nine-man rotation to start the season, Coach Bud opened it up to a 10th man in the team’s fifth regular season game with the insertion of Connaughton off the bench.
“Planet Pat” has become a staple of the rotation ever since as well as a fan favorite to many of the Bucks faithful due in part to his high energy and willingness to do the little things to help his team win.
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Connaughton brings a unique skill set off the bench for the Bucks. Listed at 6’5”, Connaughton dominated the NBA draft combine back in 2015 by recording the second-highest max vertical jump in combine history at 44 inches.
Rather than just being a great athlete, as many NBA players are, he has found ways to utilize his athleticism to affect the game in a variety of ways.
As a result, Connaughton currently holds the third-highest net rating in the NBA at +16.5 and the second-highest on the Bucks behind none other than Tony Snell. In this case, the numbers match the eye test, as the Bucks have clearly looked better with Connaughton on the court.
Recently, Andy Bailey tweeted an interesting statistic regarding the Bucks’ best and worst two-man lineups by net rating with at least 100 minutes played together so far this season:
Even for those who have watched the Bucks all season, this is a shocking piece of data. Not only was the Antetokounmpo-Connaughton duo the best Bucks two-man lineup, but it had the best net rating of any NBA duo by a considerable margin:
According to Basketball Reference, Connaughton also boasts .185 Win Shares per 48 Minutes (a statistic that estimates the number of wins a player contributes per 48 minutes), the most on the team outside of the Bucks’ big three.
With all that said, it is clear Planet Pat makes the Bucks considerably better.
So how has Pat Connaughton positively impacted the game so much while on the court for the Bucks this season?