Except for that flat performance against the Miami Heat in their road opener, the Milwaukee Bucks have so far looked every bit the part of being the 2021 NBA champions. Milwaukee cruised to an inspired victory over the Brooklyn Nets, the team nearly everyone is pegging over them, on ring night. Following the loss to the Heat, the Bucks rattled two straight road wins over the San Antonio Spurs and most recently, the Indiana Pacers.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been his dominating self, while Khris Middleton is being that steady, reliable second star for the defending champs. The Bucks have looked good early on and Pat Connaughton has turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise for Milwaukee through Week 1 of the 2021-22 NBA season.
Pat Connaughton is having the best start of his career this 2021-22 season. This also could very well be the best 4-game stretch of his career. Much like this entire Milwaukee squad, Connaughton seems to be having a championship hangover from the 2021 NBA Finals. The 29-year old played a great Finals series for the Bucks. In six games, he averaged 9.2 points and 5.8 rebounds and shot 44.1 percent from beyond the arc while logging 30 minutes a night.
To start the 2021-22 campaign, Connaughton is offering identical production and efficiency with added scoring, averaging 13.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.0 assists on 56.8 percent field goal shooting. Though it's just a four-game sample size, this promising start is definitely a welcoming sight for the Bucks.
The Bucks have been severely hit with the injury bug to begin the year. Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez haven't played since appearing on opening night while Bobby Portis, Semi Ojeleye, Donte DiVincenzo, and Rodney Hood have yet to suit up this season. But despite having all these rotation players out of commission, Connaughton has done a magnificent job in stepping up in their absence.
Sure, the 6-foot-5 wing's fast start could very well be attributed to his increased workload due to Milwaukee's injury-laden roster. But this only proves that he is ready to take on a bigger role for the Bucks as they look to defend their throne. Furthermore, sometimes all a player needs are the right amount of confidence to have a breakout campaign, and this early season success could be the break that Connaughton needs to carve out a more substantial role for the Bucks.
And that shot is looking confident all right. Planet Pat is letting that three-ball fly without any hesitation, knocking down 2.5 threes a night on 41.7 percent 3-point shooting.
The Bucks looked like had a massive hole to fill as a result of P.J. Tucker's departure this offseason. The new Heat forward played a key role in Milwaukee's championship run last season, especially on the defensive end. Connaughton's defense may not be as rugged as Tucker's, but his energy and tenacity make him a viable defensive option against the opposing team's wing or perimeter player.
Bucks fans certainly hope Connaughton's promising start to the 2021-22 NBA season translates to a breakout, and more importantly, a consistent year from the seven-year veteran.