Milwaukee Bucks: Pat Connaughton will need to stay prepared for a bigger role

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 28: (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 28: (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Pat Connaughton may not be among the Milwaukee Bucks’ most obviously important bench players, but he’ll still need to stay ready for a bigger role that could come his way in the postseason.

Coming toward the end of his second season with the Milwaukee Bucks, Pat Connaughton can be proud of what have often been very solid contributions with his second NBA club.

When Connaughton moved on from the Portland Trail Blazers, it was safe to say his performance at his next landing spot was always going to define and shape his NBA future. With how he’s played, contributed, and grown in profile during his time in Milwaukee, it looks like Connaughton can now have confidence in a long and steady career as a quality role player.

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Throughout the entirety of Connaughton’s time in Milwaukee, there’s always been almost a bonus element to his contributions. That’s not a reflection on expectations surrounding Connaughton as much as it speaks to just how deep the Bucks roster has been, and how many solid options they’ve had at their disposal.

Still, without ever holding down a starting role with the Bucks, or even settling into one of the core spots as one of the first couple of players off the bench, Connaughton has managed to leave his mark and often show up when it matters most.

Pat Connaughton has made a habit of contributing in key games for the Milwaukee Bucks.

That was certainly true in 2018-19, when Connaughton took on major minutes through the first two rounds and delivered many of his best performances as a Buck. His play against the Boston Celtics was particularly noteworthy as he dominated the glass, in addition to knocking down some big shots.

When Malcolm Brogdon returned to health and his full regular role in the Eastern Conference Finals, Connaughton saw his playing time reduced, and the Bucks’ season ultimately came to an end at that point.

My intent is not to suggest a correlation between Connaughton’s reduced minutes and the Bucks’ exit, but the fact remains that the 27-year-old has shown a knack for outperforming his usual levels when the pressure is at its greatest.

Even further illustrated by his participation in the Slam Dunk Contest at All-Star Weekend earlier this year, Connaughton isn’t afraid of the limelight.

Whatever way the Bucks’ rotation works out if, and when, the season resumes, Connaughton is unlikely to receive a lion’s share of guard or wing minutes off the bench.

As I explored recently, it’s safe to assume George Hill and Donte DiVincenzo are comfortably ahead of him in that front, with Kyle Korver also likely to eat into some of his potential playing time.

Given the uncertainty and strangeness surrounding so much of the situation at present, though, there’s a very strong possibility that more minutes could open up at some point.

Connaughton’s playoff play from a year ago will give Mike Budenholzer the confidence to turn to him to impact games, if needed, and therefore Connaughton will need to stay ready to potentially play a bigger role than he’s had for most of the season.

Heading into free agency, what Connaughton has illustrated as a Buck is that there’s real values in players of his mold. Connaughton has been a great team player, who has happily accepted his role, and performed well when called upon.

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With the prospect of a crucial Bucks playoff run still ahead of us, Connaughton may yet be asked to do even more than usual once again, though.