Though T.J. McConnell’s numbers don’t jump off the page, he is a very valuable player in his own right. He’s consistent at what he does, has a reliable mid-range jump shot and has a little bit of that “nastiness” in him. What I mean by this is that little bit of “extra” in a player that doesn’t back down to any opponent, dives for loose balls, and will make up for lack of natural talent with all out hustle. Because of this, he reminds me of a young Steve Blake.
Blake was in the NBA for a while, despite looking like someone you might find working at a local YMCA. What kept him in the league was his reliability. You knew what you were getting out of Blake. Consistency is key when playing basketball and McConnell and Blake both have this. Some players have all the talent in the world but unfortunately they don’t have the fundamentals, nor the drive to work hard, and therefore find their way out of the NBA quicker then they would realize (shout out to Ricky Davis).
The Pacers have signed McConnell this offseason and it was a solid pickup considering all the key players they’ve lost. The Pacers’ roster have consisted of castoffs and underachieving players that have been looking to prove teams wrong these past couple of seasons and that doesn’t seem like it’s going to change anytime soon. Though McConnell won’t start, he will again be a very important backup to a ready-made playoff team that will once again be the underdog heading into the season. It is said that every great team needs that “hustle guy” that brings that energy the team needs while contributing in every facet of the game, and for the Pacers, T.J. McConnell is just that player.
Though he may not look like much, make no mistake about it, McConnell might be the steal of the offseason.
Featured Photo Credit: Chris Szagola/Associated Press
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