A late Summer signing that bloomed into quite the rosy rotation player, Pat Connaughton takes the fourth slot on the best Milwaukee Bucks contracts of the last decade. The former Notre Dame Fighting Irishman eschewed a pitching career to pursue professional roundball, dabbling initially for three years in Portland as a solid backcourt rotation player. They opted not to re-sign him, a curious decision given the minimal amount he eventually got from Milwaukee, but the Bucks benefited from the Blazers offloading their backup guard who appeared in all 82 games the season prior.
Connaughton came into the league with that “athletic white guy” rep, jumping out of the gym during the combine and topping out on several tests.
"Deceptively" athletic huh??— Pat Connaughton (@pconnaughton) May 15, 2015
(As Chris Carter and the NFL prime time cast would say..) C'MON MAN!! ✈️ pic.twitter.com/KMzQ3Vngfh
It didn’t translate into much playing time though. He appeared in just 73 games his first two years in Portland after being the 41st pick (a pick that, coincidentally, the Bucks traded several years earlier as part of stealing Jason Kidd away from Brooklyn). His 3-point ticked up to 35.2% on 2.6 attempts per game that last year in Portland, earning him playing time, but not enough clout to merit that second contract. And so, Jon Horst welcomed Connaughton into the fold and Bud molded him into a serviceable guard within his rotation. You can see the boon Bud’s work had on his stat lines, moving up to 6.9 points, 4.2 boards (up from 2 boards in Portland) and 2 assists per game. Again, minimum deals don’t translate to gaudy counting stats, but in 20 minutes a contest, Connaughton regularly made his presence known through a key three, rugged rebound or all too common flying block attempt.
One of the biggest questions coming in was whether he could sustain the same serviceable 3-point percentage from Portland with just a one-year sample. I’d say the jury is still out on that, but it’s leaning towards him as a below-average, but streaky shooter. He ended last year at 33% from deep on 3.3 attempts, and is down to 32.1% this year on 2.2 attempts. I’m dubious that he will ever reach any type of consistent level around 35%, but it’s high enough that Bud is comfortable playing him minutes over the likes of Sterling Brown. The majority of Connaughton’s possessions end up in spot-ups, 33.1% last year, and his primary offensive contribution from a volume standpoint is his ability to hopefully knock down triples.
In reality, what makes Connaughton one of the best contracts isn’t his meh 3-point percentage, but instead the multitude of other proverbial “little things” that add up to sneaky impacts on both ends of the floor. One of those is his ability to finish at the rim for a man of his stature. Among wings, Cleaning The Glass has his 67% rim finishing last year ranked in the 83rd percentile. This year, he’s at 69% and 91st percentile. That helps make up for some of his streaky marksmanship from deep.
He’s also a monster board gobbler, ranking in the 90th percentile among wings for his defensive and offensive rebounding percentage. The offensive one is particularly impressive given that isn’t exactly a staple of the Bucks’ offense, but there are plenty of times he slips in for a timely tip-in or extra chance when the opposing defense is sleeping. Even at low volume, nearly any time Connaughton goes in for a putback this year, he’s converted. Additionally, while he doesn’t have the ball skills to serve as a serviceable creator, he is an incredibly unselfish player. Out of all the Bucks players, he passes the most out of his few drives per game. They’re not empty passes either, as he boasts the highest assist percentage on those passes (15.4%) on the team too, although once again, at a significantly smaller sample size than others. He’s also an opportune cutter, even if that superpower isn’t quite as potent this season.
On top of all the durable minutes he’s provided, his supercharged dunks landed him a spot in the dunk contest, where he was soundly robbed of a trip to the second round. He was integral to the team’s domination over the Boston Celtics in last year’s Playoffs too. His PER won’t blow anyone away, his defense can be overreaching and throw the team’s rotations off and his game remains limited, but to have a player with his repertoire of skills on a team where low-usage players are a premium commodity, you can’t ask for much better than Pat Connaughton.
From the Archives
With a 3-point attempt rate of 53.8%, Connaughton’s shooting profile certainly falls in line with Bud’s perimeter-oriented philosophy. Interestingly, according to Cleaning the Glass, he shot just 26% (10-39) on corner threes too. One would think that shot, typically the easiest to knock home, might rattle home more often next year to improve his overall percentage.
Regardless, Connaughton provides decent wing depth at a cheap salary. It’ll be interesting to see how the minutes shake out between him, Sterling Brown, Donte DiVincenzo and Tony Snell come the regular season. With his first-year salary guaranteed, expect him to stick around for at least this year.
Brew Hoop Best Contract of the Last Decade Ranking
8. Zaza Pachulia (2013; 3-year, $15.6M)
7. Mike Dunleavy Jr. (2011; 2-year, $7.5M)
6. Jerryd Bayless (2014; 2-year, $6M)
5. Jason Terry (2016; 1-year, $1.5M)
4. Pat Connaughton (2018; 2-years, $3.3M)
And so we’ve reached the top three. Let’s see who goes off the board next!
What is the WORST contract out of this bunch?
This poll is closed
2015 Khris Middleton (5-years, $70M)
2016 Giannis Extension (4-years, $100M)
2018 Brook Lopez (1-year, $3.3M)
This poll will close on June 23rd at 10 pm CST.