Pat Connaughton- Guard, The University of Notre Dame
27 years old, 6’5”, 209 pounds, 6’9” wingspan
NBA Experience: 5 seasons (Three with Portland, two with Milwaukee)
Career Stats: 283 games played, 4.8 points per game in 15.7 minutes per game, 2.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 44.3% field goal percentage, 34.4% three point shooting, 79% free throw shooting, 53.7% effective field goal percentage, 11.2 PER, .109 win shares per 48 minutes.
Mentioned by ESPN’s Bobby Marks, Pat Connaughton is a potential target for the Grizzlies this coming offseason. After getting limited minutes in his first two NBA seasons, Connaughton has averaged nearly 20 minutes per game over the last three seasons with the Trail Blazers and Bucks.
Particularly with the Bucks, Connaughton has grown into a super-athletic guard off the bench. After a career high year in 2018-2019, Connaughton’s numbers dipped a little bit this past season as he conceded scoring opportunities to newcomers Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver.
With a handful of free agents, and Giannis Antetokounmpo's looming free agency next offseason, the Bucks are clearly in win-now mode. Every move they make this coming offseason will be made with winning the 2021 NBA Finals in mind. This could mean a handful of things to Pat Connaughton. He could be a relatively cheap bench option to keep around and someone familiar with Mike Budenholzer’s system, or he could be someone the Bucks let walk in free agency as they will need cap space should they heavily pursue a Chris Paul trade.
Regardless of the Bucks’ priorities, Connaughton would be an interesting target for the Grizzlies, but does it make sense?
Numbers that may make Connaughton
210: Over the past 3 seasons, Connaughton has played in 210 out of 237 possible games, including appearing in all 82 games for the Blazers in the 2017-2018 season. Considering the Grizzlies injury history, Connaughton’s lack of injury history would be solid for a Grizzlies team looking to add to its already great bench depth.
11.3%: Connaughton is one of the better rebounding guards in the NBA due to his athleticism. He averaged an 11.3% total rebound percentage last season for the Bucks, ranking second among the Bucks guards.
104: Connaughton had a pretty solid defensive rating of 104 last season with the Bucks. 104 would’ve been the best defensive rating on the Grizzlies squad last season. Connaughton’s numbers are inflated a bit by the Bucks elite defense, but Connaughton would still provide some solid defense to the Grizzlies bench.
Numbers that may mean the Grizzlies pass on Connaughton
33%: Supposedly a 3-point specialist, Connaughton has averaged 33% shooting from beyond the arc over the past two seasons in Milwaukee. The Grizzlies biggest need is 3-point shooting, and Connaughton’s slightly below average shooting in Milwaukee’s wide open offense may not be good enough for the Grizzlies to want to pay.
366: In Milwaukee, Connaughton has 651 field goal attempts, with 366 of those attempts coming from beyond the arc. When 56% of your shots come from deep, you need to be more consistent than Connaughton is, especially off the bench. It doesn’t bode well for anyone if a majority of the shot attempts come from a spot on the floor you aren’t great at.
Pulse of Grizz Nation
Another Pulse of Grizz Nation poll for @sbnGrizzlies:— Brandon Abraham (@bcabraham) October 6, 2020
Pat Connaughton has been linked as a potential FA target for the Grizzlies by ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
Should the Grizzlies pursue Pat? And at what cost?
Connaughton is an interesting target for the Grizzlies. Theoretically he’d be a solid piece off the bench for a Grizzlies squad that needs shooting. However, Connaughton’s shooting numbers aren’t exactly promising. If the Grizzlies bring back Melton and Konchar, Connaughton doesn’t even have a clear path to playing time. Should Melton and/or Konchar walk, things get more interesting, though Grayson Allen’s presence doesn’t guarantee big minutes for Pat either.
It was nice to see Grizz Nation open to the idea of bringing Pat in on a bargain deal, while also not being entirely interested in the Notre Dame alum.
The Final Offer
It’ll be intriguing to see what kind of offer Connaughton gets in free agency this offseason. He could take a cheap deal to stay in Milwaukee as they chase a championship, or a team like the Grizzlies could give Connaughton an offer he can’t refuse.
At the end of the day, I just don’t see Connaughton as a good fit on the Grizzlies, unless both De’Anthony Melton and John Konchar sign elsewhere. The Grizzlies already have a glut of shooting guards, and Connaughton doesn’t do any one thing better than the others to warrant prying him away from Milwaukee for the likely asking price.
The Final Offer: 2 year deal worth $8 million.
The deal is a fair offer by the Grizzlies, but one Connaughton would probably decline. He can get similar money to stay in Milwaukee, or get more money to play on a team that he’ll likely get more minutes on. Don’t expect to see Connaughton in a Grizzlies uniform next season.