Pat Connaughton’s play has been fantastic in the NBA’s restart for the Milwaukee Bucks, and remaining consistent could be crucial.
The NBA’s restart has been an emotionally packed roller coaster ride for the Milwaukee Bucks to this point.
Coming back from a 17 point halftime deficit against the Miami Heat, Giannis Antetokounmpo getting suspended for headbutting Moe Wagner, and locking up the best record in the league during their abysmal 3-5 stretch over the seeding games headline Milwaukee’s return to basketball.
One thing that has flown mostly under the radar due to this commotion has been the stellar play of Pat Connaughton, particularly considering his own COVID-19 diagnosis meant he was the last Buck to arrive in Orlando.
With Connaughton, the Bucks, and everyone watching knows that every time he steps on the floor, he is going to provide an energetic presence. Whether it be with an emphatic putback dunk courtesy of his 44 inch vertical, a barrage of 3-pointers, or an eye-opening blocked shot, the guard always makes the most of his time on the hardwood, impacting the game whenever he checks in.
Connaughton is the perfect role player for the Bucks, and played his part this season, averaging 5.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. Taking it a step further, the guard has upped his play in the restart, turning some heads in the process.
Over Milwaukee’s eight-game stretch to restart the season, Connaughton averaged 8.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game, providing a much-needed spark off the bench. With Donte DiVincenzo and George Hill, two of Milwaukee’s vital rotational players, all struggling to regain any pre-hiatus momentum, Connaughton stepped up in a big way.
In Milwaukee’s Game 1 defeat to the 8-seeded Orlando Magic, however, Connaughton’s impact was minimal. In 22 minutes, he scored just three points on 1-for-4 shooting, while also totaling three rebounds and a single assist. It was a poor all-around effort from the Bucks, not just Connaughton, as the Magic snagged a 122-110 victory to open the postseason with an upset.
In Game 2, it seemed like the Milwaukee Bucks came out with a renowned sense of urgency, with Connaughton being a catalyst in that. In 24 minutes of action, Pat logged 15 points on 5-of-8 3-point shooting, while also grabbing 11 rebounds to secure his first double-double of the season for the Bucks. In addition, he dished out three assists and blocked two shots to solidify what might not just be his best game of the season, but the best game of his career with a 111-96 Milwaukee victory to show for it.
There were plenty of positive takeaways from Milwaukee’s bounce-back game, but Connaughton should be near the top of the list. The guard clocked in a sensational two-way effort, and if he could find some consistency, he could undoubtedly be a crucial factor for this team moving forward.
Is Connaughton going to come in and score 15 points while shooting 62.5 percent from the field on a nightly basis? Likely not. Still, even during the seeding games, he showcased his value with improved play, despite all of the team’s ups and downs. With double-digit scoring in four out of his last eight games, Connaughton has most notably increased his production offensively, a welcoming sign for the Bucks that they hope to see continue.
From here on out, it will all be about momentum for Pat Connaughton and if he can build off of this performance with some more stellar play. With Khris Middleton locked in a hellacious slump and the rest of the reserves struggling to find their touch, Connaughton could be essential until this team finds their rhythm.
The Milwaukee Bucks desperately need contributions from everyone in the rotation as they chase after their title aspirations, and Pat has accepted that challenge.