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Five Reasons Why Notre Dame’s Pat Connaughton is the Sleeper of the 2015 NBA Draft

3 min read

by Waterboy Sam Meyerkopf

In college hoops, the player with the ball is most often the star. When you dominate the ball a lot, you receive a lot of attention and are able flash skills that could maybe lead you to becoming a star at the next level. Often this leads to the role player being slept on when drafting. The oft-forgotten aspect is that role players are the types of players that can transition their college roles directly into a role in the NBA. Maybe a role player doesn’t have the upside of a potential star player, but his chance for success can be higher.

One player who could be a steal in the 2015 NBA Draft is Notre Dame star Pat Connaughton. Here are the reasons Connaughton is such an easily draftable player (we’re thinking he’ll go in the early to middle second round).

1. Shooting –Connaughton’s best skill on the court is his ability to shoot, especially from three. He’s acceptable at pull-up jumpers and can attack a closeout, but Connaughton’s money-maker is his catch and shoot three point shot. He's especially deadly from the wings (Right Wing: 44%, Left Wing: 43%).

 Shooting and spacing are the biggest trends in the NBA, and Connaughton’s ability to shoot and have enough size to defend a guard or forward makes him especially interesting.

2. Size and Athleticism –There are a decent amount of players who are good shooters every year, but the question becomes, what kind of player are they outside of their shot? Connaughton started climbing up NBA draft boards after he posted a combine-leading 44” vertical to go along with measuring 6’5” with a 6’9” wingspan. Not only is he a great shooter, he’s a great athlete you can use cutting off the ball and in transition too. His size and leaping ability helped him gobble up 7.2 rebounds a game last season, very good for a wing. His size and athleticism are the extra touch that turns him from just a college shooter into an NBA Draft prospect.

 And how about when he dunked all over All-1st Round Kentucky.



3. Leadership –Having been at the Portsmouth Invitational two months ago where Connaughton played, it was pretty incredible to see the character Connaughton showed. Even though these teams were just thrown together, Connaughton was always talking on defense, kept yelling encouragement from the bench, and constantly interacted with his teammates and coaches. He’s the type of guy you keep on your team just to improve the locker room culture. This is the skill that turns him from a draftable guy into maybe a fringe first rounder.

“The personality he had was something I wanted in my locker room . . . His leadership was essential.”

- Mike Brey, Notre Dame coach 

4. Certainty -You know the role Connaughton will play in the NBA. He’ll be a shooter on offense who has the basketball IQ to make smart passes and cuts. Defensively he’s athletic enough and works hard enough to be at least dependable. And he has the character of a guy you always want on your team. He doesn’t have much dribble drive game and will never be a huge scorer, but you know what you’re getting with Connaughton. With so much uncertainty in the Draft, more certain players become more appealing.

5. Love of the Game -Connaughton was picked in the 4th round with the 121st pick of last year’s MLB Draft. He has a guaranteed $400,000 signing bonus. And he’s not guaranteed by any means to be picked in the NBA Draft. Yet all he says is that he wants to play in the NBA! You have to love a true hooper at heart who might be better at another sport but loves basketball so much, he has to go for hoops.

Lastly, remember when he saved Notre Dame’s season with this last second block in the NCAA Tournament.


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