Milwaukee Bucks: 3 biggest surprises at halfway point in season

Feb 28, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (Michael McLoone-USA TODAY) Sports
Feb 28, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (Michael McLoone-USA TODAY) Sports /
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Jan 30, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA (Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports)
Jan 30, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA (Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) /

Pat Connaughton has arguably been the Milwaukee Bucks’ most impactful free agency move

Whether it was the additions of D.J. Augustin, Torrey Craig, Bryn Forbes and Bobby Portis, the Bucks didn’t rest on their laurels over the offseason. Of course, when you turn over half of your roster, it’s going to lead to many sizeable changes year over year and that’s obviously without touching on the acquisition of Jrue Holiday.

But is it possible that the Bucks’ most impactful free agency move was bringing back wing Pat Connaughton? That may be a little overzealous, given the scoring lifts the Bucks have gotten from the likes of Forbes and Portis, in particular, but Connaughton has offered up more two-way play than his fellow reserves.

The criticism levied at the Bucks for bringing back Connaughton on what eventually ended up being a three-year, $16 million deal in free agency was warranted for the events leading up to making such a deal. How much of that has overshadowed Connaughton’s improved campaign, though, has been unfair at this stage in the season.

Averaging 6.5 points on .443/.393/.824 shooting, Connaughton is turning in his most efficient season by 3-point percentage, effective field goal percentage (57.4 percent) and true shooting percentage (58.9 percent). Along with that, the 28-year-old is chipping in 4.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 0.7 steals across a career-high 21.1 minutes per game.

Defensively, Connaughton’s athletic strongsuits has worked well as the Bucks have incorporated more switching into their scheme and can hold his own against stronger-bodied forwards and wings.

With Connaughton’s productivity higher than ever, it all has led to him having the fourth-highest net rating on the Bucks this season, per That certainly helps when 439 of Connaughton’s 697 minutes this season have come with Antetokounmpo on the floor and the Bucks are outscoring their opponents by 14.8 points per 100 possessions.

That, in essence, perfectly summarizes Connaughton’s value to this Bucks team as the complementary wing player they need around their cornerstone trio. While they need more help on the wing going into their playoff run, Connaughton has shown why he was such a priority in the minds of the Bucks’ front office.