Grade the trade: Bucks land reputable backup guard in swap with Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 29 (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 29 (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Indiana Pacers: T.J. McConnell
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – MARCH 16 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /

Grade the trade: Milwaukee Bucks’ point of view

There’s nothing that’s difficult to read into here. The Milwaukee Bucks are in need of a backup point guard, and TJ McConnell has been one of the most solid backups in that position in this league for what feels like his entire career. The need is there, and the assets required to land a player of his caliber are available.

It’s not hard to imagine how TJ McConnell would fit well on the Milwaukee Bucks. He is a good defender and passer, and he can also score off the dribble. He would be a good fit for the Bucks’ second unit, and he would also provide insurance in case Jrue Holiday gets injured.

The Bucks’ second unit needs a point guard who can run the offense and get everyone involved. McConnell would be a good fit for that role while also providing insurance in case Jrue Holiday gets injured. If they’re able to pull off this trade, McConnell is a more than solid playmaker who can find open teammates with relative ease. He averaged 5.3 assists per game last season in a campaign that saw him put up asset-to-usage ratio of 1.68 according to Cleaning the Glass, which would put him in the 96th percentile among players in his position for that statistic.

On top of that,  McConnell is also a pesky defender who is always in the right place. He is also a good rebounder for his size. Though he only stands at 6-foot-2, opposing teams shot -3.3 fewer points per 100 possessions in the minutes TJ was on the court, which puts McConnel in the 79th percentile among point guards in defensive rating, Cleaning the Glass says.

McConnell also doesn’t have a history of being a great shooter, but he also capped out last season shooting 44.1 percent from deep, which points to significant improvement for the career 34.3 percent shooter. Beyond just floor-spacing, TJ can also very occasionally score off the dribble and create his own shot, which is always a good trait to have as a point guard.

On the other hand, Grayson Allen’s playoff struggles in 2022 indicate that he still has some work to do to reach his full potential as a young NBA player. In 24 career playoff games to this point, he’s put up considerably below-average numbers for a starting shooting guard with 8.3 points, 2.5 rebounds, and a single assist.