Pat Connaughton must find a groove with the Milwaukee Bucks soon

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 16 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 16 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /

A calf injury before the season knocked Pat Connaughton out of the lineup and forced the guard to miss the Milwaukee Bucks’ first handful of games of the 2022-23 campaign.

Since returning in November, it has been a season-long struggle for Connaughton, who has failed to find any sort of a groove. Given how important Connaughton has been for the Bucks over the past few years, they need him to flip the switch. With the playoffs on the horizon and the Bucks fighting for the NBA’s best record, this is a pivotal stretch for Connaughton that could decide how many minutes he should get moving forward.

Pat Connaughton must find a groove with the Milwaukee Bucks soon

On paper, Connaughton’s overall numbers this season are far from terrible, having averaged 7.9 points, the second most of his career, 4.8 rebounds, which ties a career-high, and 1.3 assists per game, which is tied for the third most of his career. Yet, Connaughton has struggled mainly in one area, which happens to be the most impactful part of his game. That has made it hard to keep him on the floor as much as he typically has been in recent memory.

Connaughton’s struggles primarily come from deep, as he has shot a mere 33.4 percent from the perimeter on the season. This comes after he hit 39.5 percent of his 3-pointers last season, which was a career-high with the Bucks. This season, he has shot above 33.3 percent from long range in just one month, which was January. Last season, Connaughton shot below 33.3 percent from deep on two separate occasions, and they were both shortened months. His numbers this season will not get the job done, given how much this team relies on 3-point shooting.

There is no doubt that Connaughton has it in him to be a great shooter. After all, this is the player who hit 15 3-pointers in the 2021 NBA Finals, trailing only Khris Middleton and now-teammate Jae Crowder. Connaughton was excellent during that entire playoff run, and followed it up with the best regular season of his career, as highlighted previously. For whatever reason, calf-related or not, Connaughton just has not looked like that same player this year. That has been a major issue, and the guard has 12 games to get right before the regular season concludes.

These 12 games will be pivotal for Connaughton. If these struggles continue, there would certainly be some concerns about giving him hefty postseason minutes. The veteran would almost certainly not get booted from Milwaukee’s playoff rotation entirely, but it would not be surprising to see his minutes decrease in favor of other Bucks if this continues. Yet, Connaughton still has time to erase any idea of him carrying these struggles into the postseason. He’s got 12 games to lock in and get back on the right track, which he is more than capable of doing.

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Stay tuned to see how just Pat Connaughton closes out the NBA’s regular season.