Milwaukee Bucks: Grading Pat Connaughton’s season at the All-Star break

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 04: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 04: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

After an incredible title run with the Milwaukee Bucks that included many memorable moments, Pat Connaughton had silenced many of his doubters. Still, for the very few critics that were left in the aftermath of the championship, Connaughton has followed up his playoff heroics with the best regular season of his career thus far in 2021-22.

Evaluating Pat Connaughton’s 2021-22 season with the Milwaukee Bucks at the NBA All-Star break

For context, Connaughton had the most productive regular season of his career last season by averaging 6.8 points on .434/.371/.775 shooting splits, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 22.8 minutes per game. This season, Connaughton has averaged a career-high 10.1 points on a very impressive .467/.407/.811 slash line, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 27 minutes per matchup. The main reason behind Connaughton’s increase in production is clearly the rise in playing time, with the guard starting in 18 of the team’s 54 games due to injuries, illnesses, or whatever else. Fun fact, prior to this season, Connaughton had only started in 16 games in six seasons total.

Aside from just the overall increase in minutes, Connaughton’s improvement with his 3-point shot is the biggest reason behind his success. With 307 attempts under his belt, the guard has let it fly with the utmost confidence this season, and considering he is knocking down 40.7 percent of his attempts, it is safe to say that it is paying off. Connaughton has fully adapted into the role as the catch-and-shoot threat off the bench for the Bucks, as he is shooting 119-of-294 (40.1 percent) on those attempts this season, according to His 119 makes are the sixth most in the league throughout the All-Star break.

In addition to the spark he has provided offensively, Connaughton has been exceptional on the defensive end as well. When matched up against guards this season, Connaughton has held his opponents to 119-of-306 (38.9 percent) field goal shooting, including 47-of-156 (30.1 percent) from behind the arc. The veteran’s defensive excellence has been a massive boost for the Bucks, giving them yet another reputable defender for the champs to utilize nightly.

Due to what he brings to the table on both sides of the ball, Connaughton often finds himself on the floor closing games. In fact, he is tied for the most “clutch” minutes on the team this season with 58, sharing the honors with Jrue Holiday. In that time, Connaughtin is fourth in total points with 24, shooting 8-of-19 (42.1 percent) from the floor and 7-of-16 (43.8 percent) from behind the arc. His seven 3-pointers in the clutch are the most on the entire team, showing that he has carried on the tradition of stepping up for the Milwaukee Bucks in the biggest moments.

Connaughton’s scoring, shooting, and defense have been lifesavers for the Milwaukee Bucks this year. With Bobby Portis stepping up as a starter due to Brook Lopez’s injury and George Hill in the middle of one of his worst statistical seasons, Connaughton has proven himself to be a lifeline in the second unit. Actually, he has proven to just be one in general. When the Bucks need a player to start a game, Connaughton is the player that tends to get the call, and rightfully so. The guard has proven once again to be the Swiss Army Knife for the champions, giving them incredibly versatility whenever or wherever they need it.

Overall, Connaughton could not be playing his role much better this season. Unfortunately, he will be out of the lineup for the foreseeable future after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured right fourth metacarpal on his hand. Obviously, this is a tough blow for the Bucks, but it is welcoming to note that he is fully expected to return before the regular season ends. Hopefully he is doing well in recovery and can return to form in a few weeks. Rest up, Pat!

BTBP All-Star Break Grade: A

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Stay tuned for any updates on Connaughton’s recovery and timetable for a return.