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Pat Connaughton Not Resting Even With Promising Start to the Season

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NBC Sports’ Jason Quick reports that Connaughton is in “attack mode” during this crucial year of his basketball career.

Portland Trail Blazers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Pat Connaughton wanted to be an immediate contributor, because he knew this season would be important for the Portland Trail Blazers. How hard did he work? All summer, he required himself to make 500 three-pointers per workout. And he participated in two workouts every day. NBC Sports Northwest’s Jason Quick detailed Connaughton’s fiery drive:

“This is the year I wanted to make sure I was prepared for,’’ Connaughton said. “If it didn’t work out this year, then at least I could say I did it in attack mode. But I wanted to be ready for the moments.’’

Connaughton caught the attention of Rip City from the jump – literally. He subbed in against the Phoenix Suns at the 9:26 mark for Maurice Harkless, and he sunk a 3-pointer less than a minute later at the 8:44 mark. Then it was a layup at the 7:52 mark. Then a putback at the 7:31 mark.

All of a sudden, he had seven points of Portland’s nine points in less than two minutes.

It wasn’t a Reggie Miller-esque sequence, but to Portland’s fans, who have seen Connaughton play sparingly – and usually not with an impact like that – it was some sort of revelation.

The former baseball player had 24 points when the game ended; he followed it up with eight points against the Indiana Pacers, hitting 2-of-3 from beyond the arc.

“This is the year I wanted to make sure I was prepared for,’’ Connaughton said. “If it didn’t work out this year, then at least I could say I did it in attack mode. But I wanted to be ready for the moments.’’

Connaughton, deservedly so, got well-wishes from people in his life, but it wasn’t time to stop. After getting home from the road trip, he was right back at it the next morning – even though the Blazers had a “Blackout” day that didn’t require them to even think about basketball.

“For me, it’s funny because you hear from people, ‘Oh, you played so well on the road trip; you started the season the way you wanted to,’ but when I look at it, I look at Milwaukee, and I think I could have played better. I had two turnovers I could have avoided if I just took the jump shot that I had been shooting well.’’

Even though Connaughton admits his slip-ups, he’s a welcomed contributor to a Blazers team that lost Allen Crabbe. Teammate CJ McCollum has noticed the guard’s effort:

“Lots of guys can shoot in practice. Lots of guys can shoot when there is nobody in the gym. And some guys can shoot at home in front of the home crowd. But not everybody can shoot on the road … That’s when you really see about players.’’

Connaughton may not be able to show off his road shooting that much the next 11 games – Portland will enjoy 10 of its next 11 in the Moda Center – but regardless, the guard is someone to watch grow in his new-found role.