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Overlooked and Underrated, Still a Champion: Pat Connaughton

Marshall is a Wisconsin realtor and mentor who coaches inner city youth who may not have the access to play otherwise.

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The Unsung Hero

When you win an NBA Championship, everyone sings your praises and rightfully so. It’s an extremely difficult thing to do. One player I feel is not getting praised enough however, is Pat Connaughton. He’s been a model of professionalism and consistency all year long for the Bucks and he stepped his game up in a big way during the playoffs. His numbers won’t pop off the screen, but his impact goes beyond the box score. While he does do some tangible things at an elevated level, its his intangibles that make him stand apart. I think it’s time to take a closer look at Pat Connaughton and his contributions to the 2021 NBA Champions, The Milwaukee Bucks.

Patrick Bergin Connaughton is a three-sport athlete who grow up in Massachusetts. In high school he was a star quarterback, pitcher, and shooting guard. He got Division I scholarship offers to play both basketball and baseball collegiately. He eventually settled on Notre Dame because they agreed to allow him to join both their basketball and baseball teams. He stayed all four years of college and finished his degree in 2015. He was drafted 121st overall in the 2014 MLB Draft and 41st overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, making him one of just a handful of players to play multiple sports professionally. He was ultimately forced to choose between his two passions, but I’m sure he’s somewhere getting fitted for a ring right now thinking he made the right choice. Six years into his career he has already won a championship while playing a vital role in a city he calls his home. What more can a guy ask for?

As far as the vital role he played in us winning a championship, you won’t see it on the stat sheet. He didn’t sore the most points or even play the most minutes. It doesn’t matter how much he scored though. It’s not his job to carry us offensively. It does matter how he scored and when. He made timely baskets and was able to create enough gravity to stretch the floor for Giannis to operate freely. He also made a significant contribution defensively, guarding the likes of Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Lou Williams, and Devin Booker in isolations. Many Bucks fans hate the fact that we refuse to double team opposing stars for the most part. Individual defenders like Pat are the reason we don’t. He gives 110% on that end of the floor no matter how undersized he is, how many shots he’s taken, or how many minutes he’s played. He started just four games for us all year (5 if you include the playoffs), but that never affected his enthusiasm. Every night you can expect him to compete whether he is making shots or not. You know what type of energy and effort to expect from him. There is no stat to track heart, but Pat has a lot of it.

Connaughton wasn’t a complete dud offensively, however. Not by any means. With me harping on his intangibles so much, it can come across like Pat put up zero points when he played and didn’t affect the box score at all (PJ Tucker). That simply is not true. Pat had a massive impact with his shooting alone. He made thirty-seven threes on 39% during the 2021 playoffs. That is the highest percentage on the team for any player who had more than eleven attempts. He had eight games where he connected on 3 or more three-point field goals and 2 games where he hit 5. He also shot 46% from the field overall, which is a slight bump from the 43% he shot during the regular season. His teammates, namely Giannis, showed a lot of trust in him, hitting him with more than a few no look passes. He rewarded them in kind by knocking down the shots, getting them assists, and energizing the crowd. This title run was the stuff of legends and this Bucks team will go down as one of the greatest in franchise history. I just want to make sure everyone gets the spotlight because, boy, do they deserve it.

© 2021 Marshall Trudo IV

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