5 Milwaukee Bucks with the most to prove in the 2023-24 season: Pat Connaughton
Once the unsung hero of the 2021 NBA Finals, Pat Connaughton’s field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, and free throw percentage have all declined in recent years.
It’s not so much a fall from grace considering all the intangibles he brings to the court, but where his production can be measured, things are just not looking up. His scoring average has also declined from 9.9 points per game on 39 percent shooting from deep in 2021-22 to just 7.6 points per game on 33 percent the year after.
There are a few reasons for Connaughton’s decline in production. He’s been dealing with some injuries in recent years, which led to him playing fewer minutes. On top of that, he has been playing a different role on the team in the wake of all the personnel changes that transpired over the past offseason.
In the past, Connaughton was primarily a catch-and-shoot player. But now, he is being asked to do more off the ball, such as setting screens and cutting to the basket. This has led to a decrease in his shot attempts and scoring opportunities but has led to much more intangible production for a player of his archetype.
Despite his recent decline in production, Connaughton is still a valuable member of the Bucks. He is a versatile player who can defend multiple positions and contribute to the team in a variety of ways. However, if the Bucks want to be a contender this season, they will need Connaughton to return to his previous form.
It would also be disingenuous to leave out the reality that Connaughton has been dealing with some injuries in recent years, including a broken hand and a foot injury. These injuries have no doubt limited his playing time and his ability to train effectively, but on the flip side, it’s also been quite a bit of time since then.
But he’s getting up there in years, and “Planet Pat” has had an entire offseason to recover and get back in playing shape. In the first few regular season games thus far, he’s shown that his energy is just as meteoric as ever, particularly on the offensive glass.
The big question now is his offense: will he be able to make defenses pay for leaving him open? This is what has made him an asset during his time in Milwaukee, and the expectations are that he can get back to that.