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Bucks Announce Pat Connaughton Will Miss 3 Weeks

The Bucks wing suffered a calf strain and will miss time…which is bad timing.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks-Media Day Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

All of a sudden, the undercurrent of concern about the Milwaukee Bucks and their place in an ever-improving Eastern Conference has bubbled to the surface. This morning, the team announced that Pat Connaughton — beloved reserve wing and budding real estate tycoon — suffered a calf strain and will miss three weeks of action.

The regular season starts on Thursday.

By itself, this injury would be an unfortunate loss but not an insurmountable one. But in the context of the team’s overall wing rotation, it’s beginning to look a bit shaky. Remember that Connaughton has long been one of the few players guaranteed to make the postseason rotation over the years, a testament to his versatility and dependability. His absence becomes all the more glaring when factoring in that the team is already missing Khris Middleton (rehabbing from wrist surgery) and newcomer Joe Ingles (rehabbing from ACL surgery).

Suddenly there’s not many available options on the wing for a team with Finals aspirations, and Mike Budenholzer is in a bit of a pickle. Few expect the Bucks to push any of their contemporaries for the top seed in the conference; Milwaukee has always prioritized postseason longevity and manage minutes to reach that end. But a stretch of double-digit games that coincides with missing your three best options at small forward risks putting the team’s record into a hole that gets harder and harder to climb out of as time goes by.

In the meantime, the Bucks can’t do anything besides control how they respond to this temporary setback. There are in fact options to fill the void on the wing…just not ideal ones. Rookie MarJon Beauchamp figures to get a lot of attention from fans clamoring for him to play developmental minutes; this solution might be a boon for him in the long-term but it will make the team perform worse right now. Jordan Nwora will certainly get opportunities, and the team’s defense will likely struggle as a result. Beyond that, Wes Matthews might be able to slide down and play more SF, opening up additional minutes at the guard position for Grayson Allen, George Hill, and Jevon Carter. On the other end of the positional spectrum, it’s likely that Giannis Antetokounmpo himself will be called on to contribute some minutes, sharing the court with the Bucks’ other primary bigs (Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis) in a jumbo-by-sheer-necessity lineup that we’ve seen glimpses of over the last year.

Like I said, there are options, just nothing that presents itself as the clear-cut solution to the problem. We’ll have to see how the team responses, and hope that this injury is just a blip on the Bucks’ radar and not the start of a season-long trend that would undermine Milwaukee’s playoff hopes.