How Pat Connaughton’s return impacts the Milwaukee Bucks’ rotation

CLEVELAND, OHIO - JANUARY 26 (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - JANUARY 26 (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

After fracturing his right hand in a matchup between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns on February 10, Pat Connaughton was slated to miss a month following surgery. Sure enough, the guard made his return on March 19 as the Bucks visited the Minnesota Timberwolves. Though the Bucks lost the game, Connaughton gave fans something to be optimistic about as he showed very little signs of rust. He played well in his 20 minutes by scoring 20 points on 5-of-11 shooting from behind the arc while tallying three rebounds, two assists, and a steal.

With Connaughton back in the lineup, coach Mike Budenholzer will be tasked with shifting around the rotation to get Milwaukee’s sixth man back into the swing of things.

Assessing the Milwaukee Bucks’ rotation following Pat Connaughton’s return from injury

Given that Connaughton has averaged a career-high 26.9 minutes per contest this season, he has clearly been an important piece for the defending champions. Moving forward, Pat will continue to play a significant role for Milwaukee nightly, likely right around his season average in minutes. Connaughton’s return raises questions about how the second unit rotation may be tweaked for the other pieces in Milwaukee’s lineup, as playing time will have to be sacrificed by others.

The two Bucks whose minutes may be the most drastically impacted by this are Jordan Nwora and Wesley Matthews. Nwora has received some extended playing time over the past month or so due to Connaughton’s injury, but the sophomore forward will likely see his minutes regress now. As for Matthews, he has valiantly stepped up in Connaughton’s absence, and while his time will not be as cut as drastically as Nwora’s, it could dip. Matthews will still take the court nightly, but his role will not be as largened as it has been over the last month or so, particularly late in close games.

Considering that Connaughton has logged the fourth-most fourth “clutch” minutes on the Bucks this season with 58 total, according to, he will once again find himself out on the floor in the closing lineup. Matthews had been filling in for him recently as the veteran had logged 17 clutch minutes in Connaughton’s absence, the fifth most on the team. Simply, Connaughton’s return gives the Bucks another closer for late-game situations, a role he had been playing prior to the hand injury this season.

Two other Bucks that will be impacted by Connaughton’s return are George Hill and Jevon Carter, Milwaukee’s backup point guards. With Hill being ejected early in Saturday’s contest, fans did not get a clear look of how the second unit backcourt rotation will look with Hill, Connaughton, and Carter in the fold, but it will be worth monitoring moving forward. Connaughton will certainly log the most minutes among the three, but the other two will see their time regress. Hill is still looking to find his own footing as he recently returned from an injury, while Carter has caught the world by surprise as he has played the best basketball of his career with the Bucks since signing with them last month.

In short, Connaughton’s return will give the Milwaukee Bucks their sixth man back, and his role will be clear-cut moving forward. Considering how the veteran was in the midst of a career year before his surgery last month, Budenholzer and the Bucks will likely try to get him back up to speed soon, meaning his role will once again be prominent night in and night out.

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Hopefully Connaughton’s return to action Saturday was just the start of things to come.