Grading the trade for Royce O’Neale: Milwaukee’s POV
The Bucks are still weaning themselves off a long era in which they built a strong defensive identity under the tutelage of Mike Budenholzer. Their headfirst dive into offense-first play with Damian Lillard leading the charge has had something of a shaky start due to the loss of Jrue Holiday, and their perimeter defense could certainly benefit from adding someone of O'Neale's talents and versatility.
If the Bucks are looking to bolster their defense, especially on the perimeter, O'Neale could be a low-risk, high-reward type of addition if the price tag is Pat Connaughton and a few second-rounders.
For someone playing 24 minutes per game over younger, higher-ceiling pieces like MarJon Beauchamp, Andre Jackson, and AJ Green, Pat Connaughton has averaged just 4.6 points, four rebounds and 1.6 assists in his last 10 games. He’s also putting up these meager numbers on 30.6 percent shooting from behind the 3-point line and 36.4 percent efficiency from the field overall, which is a far cry from the sort of efficiency he displayed in past years.
There’s no way around it: he’s taken a massive step back from the reliable glue guy who played a significant role in the championship run just two years ago. He’s a step slow othe n defense and hasn’t been making his shots on the other end, although his trademark hustle and rebounding are very much still there — they just haven’t been making a meaningful impact on games these days.
On the other hand, O'Neale is known for his defensive prowess and versatility. Standing at 6-foot-6 -that’s per NBA.com, while other sources like Basketball Reference put him at 6-foot-4 - and weighing in at 224 pounds, O'Neale can demonstrably guard multiple positions and contribute to both interior and perimeter defense with his hustle, activity, and basketball IQ.
He's by no means a lockdown defender in this league, but he has an entire career backing up his versatility and relative competence at each position. According to Cleaning the Glass, O’Neale has spent time playing all five positions for the Brooklyn Nets this season. His best work comes at the shooting guard spot, where opposing two guards score 113.5 points per 100 possessions on 51.9 percent effective field goal percentage — two statistics that put him at the 65th and 84th percentile in his position.