NBA Draft Profile: Justin Patton
Measurables: 6’11, 7’3 Wingspan, 230 lbs
Statistics: 12.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.4 BPG, 0.9 SPG
Being a student at Xavier University, a fellow Big East school, I watched a lot of Creighton basketball games and Justin Patton always stuck out to me. The first thing that I noticed was his ability to run the floor. Patton is long, lean, and looks like a gazelle when he gallops across the hardwood. His mobility and length gives him a great chance to be a defensive catalyst that can switch on and off anybody. He played guard until his high school growth spurt, so he is still feeling out his body, but he looked very comfortable shooting jumpers and handling the ball, even if the results weren’t always there. I would venture to bet that, given a good NBA shooting coach, Patton could become a capable shooter in the NBA. While his skills are lacking, I think Patton can be developed. He has great touch around the basket and was one of the leaders in FG%, something I think bodes very well for his development. He is a fearsome shot blocker and while his length disrupts opposing bigs, his closing speed and 9’4 standing reach can bother driving guards. His BPG total doesn’t just show the true impact he had as a collegiate rim protector; when Creighton played at Xavier, there was one sequence where Patton blocked 3 shots in the same possession, including a shot from former All-American Trevon Bluiett. Patton can be an elite, athletic defender at the next level and become a solid contributor on offense.
Just as Patton’s speed and shot blocking stood out right away to me, his lack of strength did as well. Even though he measured at 230 lbs, he looks deathly skinny. Adding strength will help him impose his will on smaller players as well as allowing him to make a jump to becoming an elite defender. As I touched on earlier, Patton is behind in the skill department, but he is still getting used to his growing body and has shown tremendous potential for improvement. Finally, he hasn’t played the position very long, so he is inexperienced. Patton needs to learn more and more about the nuances about playing basketball. He has all the tools but his court awareness needs to improve (one of the reasons that he only had 1.4 BPG).
I think that the best fit for Patton is the Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee has a history of developing players that are raw, long, and athletic, all things that Patton exemplifies. Taking another high upside player who can grow along with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, and Thon Maker, should be the Bucks priority. If they stick to their strong suit of developing raw athletes, Patton should be among the players at the top of their draft board as a younger and less expensive John Henson.
Patton, in my opinion, is criminally undervalued in this year’s draft. Yes, there are a lot of centers in the draft, but I think Patton should be ranked next to or ahead of Zach Collins. Patton is being drafted behind guys like Jarrett Allen, Ike Anigbogu, John Collins, Bam Adebayo, and Harry Giles, all of whom don’t come close to my evaluation for Patton. Post injury Harry Giles, Jarrett Allen, and John Collins lack the athletic upside that Patton possesses, and Ike/Bam haven’t shown nearly the same level of potential skill that Patton has displayed. Of the center prospects, only Ike can come close to matching Patton’s combination of size, length, and mobility. I think, if developed correctly, Patton can impact games defensively just like prime Larry Sanders did for the Bucks. With that said, Patton projects to be a much better offensive player than a guy like Sanders, who has less touch around the basket than a guy with bricks for hands.