It’s been discussed fairly regularly on social media how much of a difference there is in Pat Connaughton’s game since he won a championship with the Milwaukee Bucks last season. He seems more confident and looks like he’s really enjoying himself out there.
It’s worth noting here that I’m a fan of Pat being considered for 6th Man Of The Year this season. Let’s break it all down and see how much he has improved this year.
Pat With A Ring
In his first 30 games this season, Pat stepped up big when the team was shorthanded and needed their rotation players to step up. He averaged 11 points per game and shot 43% from the field. He was a huge offensive asset and gave it his all on defense.
During that stretch, Pat hit a career high in three-pointers made in a game (7-13) at MSG against the New York Knicks, where he finished with 23 points off the bench. He was instrumental in that game where without him, there’s a good chance the Bucks don’t come away with the W.
Continuing to look at the opening 30 games, Connaughton only has 10 games where he didn’t score double figures; only eight where he didn’t hit multiple three-pointers; and only two games where he didn’t hit a three at all.
Personally, I would say that’s great start to the season. Yes, in the last 10-12 games he has hit a bit of a slump, but that was inevitable. To ask Pat to keep up that level of performance all season was never going to be possible. But to be fair to him, during that sticky patch, he has also had a COVID-related absence, which may have knocked him off his rhythm a bit.
Looking at his stats for the season and comparing them to last season, it’s clear to see the improvement. Part of that will come down to the fact he’s averaging an extra five minutes per game on the court, just shy of 28 minutes per game. We all know this is because of absences and will inevitably reduce as the season continues.
In those 28 minutes, Pat is averaging nearly four points per game more at 10.5 points (up from 6.8) on 47% shooting from the field. Again, this is an improvement on last season where he shot 43.7%. Of those field goals, he’s hitting nearly 40% of his three pointers… compared to last year, where he averaged 37% throughout the season (39% during the post season championship run).
Pat can jump like a salmon and his rebounding is an asset to the team. Albeit, his rebounding and assist numbers are actually pretty similar to last year.
There’s a trend here – I’m sure you can see it by now. Pat plays better with a ring on his finger and is an important player on this roster. He signed a three year, $16 million deal in 2020 and many Bucks fans thought it wasn’t a great move. But you know what? I think that after looking at his performances and improvement, I’d say it was a good piece of business from the Bucks front office.
Pat for 6MOTY
I’m a big Pat fan. I was a big fan in the past, when I’d receive a lot of stick and ended up in arguments with people over why he is an important player. Even during the playoffs last season, he got a lot of stick for whatever reason, despite playing a big role in each series.
This year, Pat been great, as you can see. Now, I’m not saying he will win the 6th Man Of The Year – he most likely won’t – but I do strongly believe that he should at least be in the conversation. Aye, I’m a Bucks fan so I’m probably a little biased, but people deserve recognition when they perform the way Connaughton has been.