Orioles draftee Connaughton’s strong NBA opener, promise for more minutes, cloud baseball future – Baltimore Sun (blog)

The Orioles still believe that 2014 fourth-round draft pick Pat Connaughton has more promise throwing fastballs than shooting 3-pointers, but Connaughton’s performance in the Portland Trail Blazers’ regular-season opener Wednesday night proved that his NBA career still has life.

Connaughton, 24, opened his third NBA season by scoring a career-high 24 points in Portland’s 124-76 blowout victory over the Phoenix Suns, making nine of 14 shots, including four of seven from 3-point range while playing 32 minutes.

It was unquestionably the best game of Connaughton’s NBA career. And even though it came with starting shooting guard CJ McCollum unavailable serving a one-game suspension, it provided a glimpse of the increased playing time Connaughton could garner this season, which would further place his professional baseball career on the back burner.

The Orioles believed that Connaughton could be fully invested in baseball by the beginning of the 2018 season, because only the first two years of the three-year NBA deal he signed with the Trail Blazers before the 2015-16 season were guaranteed. But the Trail Blazers picked up the third year of Connaughton’s deal in August, postponing any full-time commitment to baseball for at least another year.

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