Unknown is the best word to use when you’re talking about Creighton Redshirt Freshman Center, Justin Patton.
Patton wasn’t considered a potential NBA prospect and he didn’t receive a lot of buzz from collegiate scouts during his Junior High School days. Creighton head coach Greg McDermott took a flyer early and got a commitment from the big man before the word got out about Patton.
Patton went from a zero star project to a four star recruit by the end of his senior year at Omaha North which is located in Ohama, Nebraska. Patton finished 24th overall in the Scouts Recruiting Ranks and 45th in the nation according to Rivals.com.
Patton took a different approach to the college process than most players in this loaded draft class. He didn’t want to rush the college experience; however, he took advantage of the opportunity to enhance his game.
After enrolling at Creighton, Patton chose to red-shirt and develoed his game, mature physically, emotionally and mentally. Patton’s hard work paid off and he’s considered a gem in a very talented class considering he’s one of the few players that was red-shirted during their college tenure.
During his red-shirt season, he worked with Creighton’s coaching staff and got a year of experience in the weight room. Last season, Patton came out on fire and thrust himself on the NBA Draft Radar averaging (12.9) Points Per Game and (6.2) Rebounds Per Game. Patton added (1.4) Blocks Per Game, (1.2) Assists Per Game and a Steal.
Patton added muscle to his 6 foot 11 inch frame allowing him to compete at the collegiate level.
Heading into the NBA Draft, Patton’s projections have him all over the draft board. With great size at 6 foot 11 inches tall, Patton weighs a solid 230 pounds already with room to add more mass to a long lanky frame.
Talent is apparent as Patton became known for running the floor on the fast break and throwing down big dunks in transition something that is rare for a young big man.
Patton brings a solid arsenal in the post move category and can develop into an above average post scorer. He can also step out and shot the college three, time will tell if he will be able to stretch that range to the NBA three-point line.
If he can, Patton could be a steal in this draft as he fits the mold of what a starting center at the NBA level has become. Patton isn’t one of the raw big prospects like a Harry Giles or Jarett Allen, but his ceiling is just as high, but his floor is also higher.
At the very least, Patton should be a solid rotational big with the ability to run the floor and defend. He could become the next Hassan Whiteside with a shooting touch and a tad more scoring ability that could make him an All-Star during the prime of his career.
Although there’s a lot of upside with Patton, his first NBA Destination will have to display patience with the young Center. He’s not going to be an All-Star caliber player overnight, the team will need a solid nucleus already in place for Patton to fully reach his potential, Patton could flourish in a complementary role and have a set foundation in the event that he didn’t succeed early.
Patton is 20 years old and the NBA is a complex place for a big man. Patton isn’t ready physically to bang with grown men like DeAndre Jordan, Demarcus Cousins, or Marc Gasol. Also, is he ready mentally to deal with the trash talk and vocal game of players like Zach Randolph and Draymond Green? He’ll have to learn the concept of the Pros and rely on more than his athleticism to succeed in a NBA rotation.
Patton would be a great fit for the Hawks at 19 as the perfect pick and role and pick and pop big to play in Mike Budenholzer’s system, but I caution bringing in a player like Patton with Dwight Howard now in Charlotte.
Patton would be asked to play early and he’s not ready to do that just yet, though if allowed to develop he could be a key piece to the rebuild that appears to be underway in Atlanta. For the Hawks, Patton is a could be something, could be nothing type pick, which in my opinion the Hawks should steer clear from at this point.
Hawks will need to either hit singles, which means a solid role player or home runs, which means superstar talent in the draft over the next few years and Patton is more a double type prospect, meaning he could just be an average starter and maybe make a few all-star games, but it’s not likely he’ll become a superstar.
Jeremy Johnson: (@Clark_Kent_75)