For the rest of this season, all eyes will be on Jimmy Butler and what he does with the Sixers. Philly believes that they have found the final piece to their process puzzle and is ready to compete for a championship.
However, lost in the hoopla of this blockbuster trade is Justin Patton. The young center was the other player included in this packaged deal and could turn out to be a serviceable big man in the NBA.
When the trade for Butler was initially reported last weekend by multiple outlets, a lot of people looked over Patton and figured he was just a throw-in asset that Minnesota wanted to get rid of.
While the latter may or may not be true, depending on whom you ask. The Sixers are getting a young center that has a ton of untapped potential. In today’s NBA, it is rare to get not only a superstar player, but also a former first-round pick still on his rookie deal in an early-season trade.
This is the case with Patton, who might miss the rest of this season with a foot injury. The 6-foot-11 center broke his foot in September, after initially breaking his foot before last season began.
Last month, the Timberwolves declined Patton’s third-year team option, which means he will become an unrestricted free agent next season. Even though he did not play a lot with the Timberwolves last season, Patton did get an opportunity to showcase his talents in the NBA G-League with their affiliate in Iowa.
With the Iowa Wolves, Patton averaged 12.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks in 23.1 minutes per game. On the surface, these stats are not impressive, but for a guy who missed his first NBA training camp and only played one season of the college basketball, it was a sign of good things to come.
As you can see in the video above, Patton has solid footwork in the post, but it can get better as he is only 21 years old. Furthermore, he also showed the ability to take opposing centers off the dribble and looked comfortable doing it.
In today’s NBA, you need to have versatile big men that are not only presences in the paint but can comfortably make a jump shot from the perimeter.
Did I also mention that he can run the floor and finish in transition? At Creighton, he averaged 1.47 points per possession in transition and was the NCAA’s top finisher with 1.52 ppp.
Nevertheless, if the Sixers do decide to keep Patton on the roster, then they might have a player on their hands. His skills work very well with what Philadelphia does on offense and he is a large presence on the defensive side of the ball as a rim protector.
As a redshirt freshman, he ranked sixth in the Big East conference in defensive rebounding percentage (19.0) and had a defensive rating (DRtg) of 96.1, which was impressive.
He does not need a lot of minutes to be an effective player on the floor and you can never have too many big men that can do multiple things. Therefore, while all the attention is on Butler, don’t forget Patton, who could play a key role for the Sixers down the road.