It’s been a nice week or so for Milwaukee Bucks fans. The team has won five straight games, is finally getting healthy, and it’s Thanksgiving! Any chance you can get to eat good food is always a good time and the staple of any good Thanksgiving meal is the potatoes.
No matter how you like them, potatoes are generally a universally accepted part of a good Thanksgiving meal. They can be made into so many different styles, it’s a very versatile food and can fit into any meal.
Pat Connaughton is the potatoes of the Milwaukee Bucks and how versatile he’s been has been vitally important since signing with the team, but even more so this season with the number of injuries they’ve dealt with.
Pat Connaughton’s versatility and importance to the Milwaukee Bucks
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Connaughton and not everyone in the Bucks fanbase saw his value right away. It’s not easy to see a guy who doesn’t put up a ton of counting stats and see his full value. But slowly fans have begun to see what Connaughton does well and has made for quite the redemption story.
But a lot of what makes Connaughton great is that he can do so many things and for a team that has needed bodies this season, having a guy like Connaughton to fill different roles has been huge.
We’ve seen so many different versions of Connaughton in this 7-2 stretch from the Bucks alone. We got the scoring/red hot shooting version against the New York Knicks where he helped close out a tough road game at Madison Square Garden.
Then there’s “starter Pat” which we saw for a couple of games, but primarily against the Boston Celtics when the team was without Giannis Antetokounmpo (among others). He played nearly 35 minutes (his second-highest minutes total this season) and posted a full line of 15 points, five rebounds, an assist, two steals, and a block.
Then on this homestand, he has become their sixth-man with Bobby Portis being inserted into the starting lineup. He’s done a little bit of everything and even when he has an off night, like going 1-of-6 from 3-point range against the Oklahoma City Thunder, he manages to find other ways to make an impact — he had seven rebounds in that game as well.
We’ve even seen a slight uptick in “frontcourt Pat” this season as he’s played a higher percentage of his minutes at power forward (around eight percent) than any other season of his career (his previous high was three percent last season).
He’s had to start games at the four due to injuries or even just fill in at that spot in the rotation because the Bucks are now starting both Antetokounmpo and Portis. He has always been a quality rebounder for his size and is also very strong which has made him a more-than-viable fill-in as a frontcourt player. In fact, in those limited minutes at the four, the Bucks are plus-59.7, per Cleaning the Glass (subscription required).
As a whole over this 7-2 stretch, Connaughton is averaging 13.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.0 steals and posting a ridiculous 69.2 percent true shooting as well as a near 69 percent effective field goal rate. As nice as those numbers are, the biggest asset is his ability to fix whichever problem the Bucks have in regards to injuries.
Now that they’ll be without Semi Ojeleye for an extended period, Connaughton’s versatility will come into play once again. We’ll likely see more added responsibility for Connaughton to guard bigger wing players and continue to play more minutes at the four while Ojeleye and Brook Lopez are out.
A lot of fans caught on to Connaughton’s importance during the championship run and now his strong start to this season has reinforced the idea that his contract has been a bargain for the Bucks as he is one of their most versatile and important players.
Perhaps if Connaughton can continue this strong stretch of basketball, we may see his name sneak into the back-end of the Sixth Man of the Year ballot with some fourth and fifth place votes. It’s not a huge accomplishment but would be cool to see him get some acknowledgment.