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Justin Patton – 7’0” Center, Creighton, 19 Years Old
Justin Patton is yet another name in the long list of ‘one-and-done’ talents in the upcoming NBA Draft. He’s projected to fall somewhere between the 15th and the 20th pick by most recognisable sources, and Bleacher Report has him in at #15, falling to the Portland Trail Blazers.
In his freshman year at Creighton, he averaged a respectable 12.9 PPG to go with 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. What stands out most – for good and for bad – were his shooting percentages from the season. From the field, Patton had an extremely respectable clip of 67.7%. Although he never forayed outside the 3-point arc too often, he was still able to knock down 53.5% of the opportunities he got. Patton’s only letdown was his free-throw shooting, only managing to net just over half his opportunities (51.7%.)
Whenever teams around the league spot a player 7’0” tall with a 7’3” wingspan, to go with dangerous athleticism and a smooth touch, regardless of what stage he is in his development, there are going to be eyes on him. That situation is the one Patton finds himself in. He’s by no means a finished product, but his versatility is truly remarkable and bursts with potential. On the offensive end of the floor, he’s able to operate inside and outside the paint. When he’s next to the hoop, his above-the-rim prowess to go with improved post moves down low have been lethal for defenders at the college basketball level.
What really separates him, however, from most big men in the draft is the guard-esque style of play he can adopt at any given time. Patton began high school as a 6’2” guard, and even when he hit his growth spurt, he retained similar abilities that a guard has. Because of this, he’s effective in catch-and-shoot situations and can conduct plays on the wing when required. More importantly, in transition he’s much more agile than other big men, and uses this to stay a step ahead.
Patton isn’t a defensive fortress just as yet, but he’s still able to use his dominant height, wingspan and versatility to great effect. In a game dominated by pick-and-rolls, Patton is able to switch on to guards and wings on the perimeter, using his size to put a stranglehold on his new matchup. With the 3-ball in such full swing these days, the ability for a big man to switch onto a guard and smother him effectively on the perimeter lessens the impact of the shot outside the arc. His paint presence is still developing, but as of now Patton remains a nuisance for opposing players when he’s defending down low. Averaging more than a block and a half a game in the college season is a testament to this.
The good news for Justin Patton is that fundamentally, he lacks next to nothing in actual technical ability. He’s got every quality a coach would want from an NBA calibre player. Combine that with freakishly outstanding athleticism, and you have a definite first round draft pick. His one achilles heel is his free throw percentage, which could undoubtedly be higher for a player with his kind of shooting stroke.
However, while Patton’s got almost all bases covered in terms of skill, it is the nurturing of this raw talent that is key for his potential career success. Whichever team drafts him has to channel his athletic prowess into substantial results, and for that to happen, he needs experience and development with senior players. He’s going to be drafted as a project, not as a straight-away-impact player in the league. But persisting with Justin Patton could be an extremely smart move. He’s the real deal.
If all goes right, and if the Justin Patton project is successful, we could see him amongst the top big men in the NBA in a few years time. He is part of the new generation of centers; the more agile and athletic bunch that suit the style of play today. If he can merge his already adept fluidity on the court with some more ‘old-school’ type big man play – such as putting on weight and muscle and using it down low – we have an elite center in the making.
Yes. Patton is indeed reminiscent of arguably the most dominant big man in the NBA, Anthony Davis.
Patton displays many of the qualities that Davis has been showcasing these last few seasons. They both have good shooting percentages, are effective on the block and above the rim, have great transitional play and take athleticism to a whole new level. However, that’s most good NBA big men anyways. What is it about Davis that makes Patton so comparable to him?
Like Patton, Davis also went into high school as a guard and only hit his growth spurt later. Like Patton, Davis was able to not only shift to the role of a big man, but incorporate his guard abilities into his big man game. Davis was the #1 draft pick in 2012, and was a few echelons above what Patton is now. But one thing is for certain.
Remember the name.