The Brooklyn Nets selected Pat Connaughton with the 41st overall pick in the 2015 draft. Before he could get to Brooklyn, the Nets flipped him to the Portland Trail Blazers. Connaughton showed his true love for the game of basketball, putting a potential MLB career on hold in attempt to make it in the NBA. He is a very good pitcher and was already drafted into the MLB by the Baltimore Orioles, but basketball is his true love. In Portland, Connaughton will have a good chance to make the roster, on a team that is rebuilding after losing four starters from last year.
He is a 6’5” shooting guard out of Notre Dame. Known for his toughness and shooting stroke, Connaughton impressed NBA scouts greatly at the combine. He showed an explosiveness and athleticism few people knew he had. While at Notre Dame, he mostly played the role of a knockdown shooter. He showed he belonged at the combine and frankly showed that he was one of the best athletes in this year’s draft, which undoubtedly helped raise his draft stock. Connaughton helped lead Notre Dame deep in the NCAA tournament last year, but took a back seat to guard Jerian Grant. He was always a good leader and a solid player in college, but never the star of the team. He is a very good rebounder for his position and could play at the small forward position or shooting guard. He has the look of a small forward but can shoot it with the best of him. His three point shooting is what could keep him in the NBA. Despite his great athleticism, he could use some skill development in the ball handling and passing departments. He is average in these areas for a potential NBA shooting guard. Connaughton did participate in the summer league but played sparingly.
Graphic via zimbio
In limited minutes he did show a knack for gaining rebounding position and he showed off his sweet shooting stroke. He converted almost 44 percent of his three point attempts. Shooting numbers similar to that will keep anyone around the NBA, even if that is their only skill. Realistically, Connaughton could be a solid role player in the NBA. Although, his upside is limited and he will probably never develop into much more than that. In Portland, his biggest competition is CJ McCollum.
McCollum showed promise last year and could start next to Damian Lillard. Still, Portland is now a long ways from competing for a playoff spot and they will likely take a look at all of their young players this season to see what they have. Connaughton should be able to make the team and will most likely see some minutes as a role player off the bench. A shooter like him has a good chance in the NBA, and if he cannot make it, there is always the MLB.
Graphic via georgiatech