Welcome to the Brew Hoop’s entirely subjective and emotionally-driven 2019-20 Milwaukee Bucks season player evaluations! Similar to last year’s series, we’ll take a look at each current Buck and ask three questions: what do they do that helps (Boon), what do they do that hurts (Bane), and whether they ought to be on this team (Belonging).
Pat Connaughton is, by his own admission, more than an athlete. The 6’5” baseball prospect has gotten involved in Milwaukee, both as a philanthropist and an investor, and his charming personality often makes him a fan favorite. However, he followed up an uneven first season with the Bucks...with an equally uneven second season.
Pat’s Boon: Athleticism and Showmanship
Planet Pat knows how to play to a crowd, even though his preferred audience is usually his teammates. Part of what energizes everyone in the building is the exuberance of Connaughton’s youth, usually fueled by his 44-inch vertical, and it got him all the way to a disappointing/unfair third-place finish in the 2019-20 NBA Dunk Contest.
In regular games, Pat was often a contributor, and sometimes a useful one! His energy levels on defense supported Milwaukee’s perimeter defense, and he was a good finisher at the rim, an excellent cutter, and a willing (if wayward) three-point shooter. All in all, Pat is a decent player who gave Mike Budenholzer a versatile solution to a number of problems.
Pat’s Bane: Jack of All Trades, Master of None
That versatility is a part of what puts a ceiling on Pat’s potential as a player. He can handle the ball...a little bit (14.0% turnover rate last year). He can shoot...sort of (33.0% from deep in Milwaukee over two years). He doesn’t use many possessions on offense (13.2% usage rate for his career)...but he doesn’t do much consistently with the possessions that he does get. Especially on defense, Pat plays like a guy who has always had an athletic advantage over his counterparts. Sure, sometimes that pays off, but more often it takes him out of the play.
Does Pat Belong?
Connaughton signed in Milwaukee after a promising start for a second-round pick with the Portland Trail Blazers, but even his 2019-20 salary wasn’t guaranteed until late last offseason. He has established himself as a serviceable NBA player, but at the game’s higher levels he struggles to be more than that. As an unrestricted 27 year-old free agent with just over $6M in career earnings, Connaughton may be looking at his last shot at a notable NBA contract, but the Bucks’ cap situation and his inconsistent production suggest that he may ply his trade elsewhere. Milwaukee does hold his Early Bird rights, allowing them to go over the cap and still re-sign Connaughton to a contract starting at up to 175% of his 2019-20 salary (which would be just over $3.0M). Is that worth it for a rotation player who fell flat in the Miami Heat series, and could Pat get more elsewhere? Despite his affinity for his teammates and the city, the signs point to Pat Connaughton and Milwaukee parting ways.