Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Justin Patton (Creighton) is introduced by NBA commissioner Adam Silver as the number sixteen overall pick to the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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The Minnesota Timberwolves were a big winner on 2017 NBA Draft night. Their pick was later than expected, but ended up being a great choice taking Justin Patton.
Justin Patton is a 20-year-old center out of Creighton with a lot of potential. He fills a large void on the Timberwolves’ bench. The Wolves have struggled to maintain a deep frontcourt because of Nikola Pekovic‘s injury problems. Now with Pekovic officially out of the picture, the Wolves are in a good place with their frontcourt outlook.
Patton is NBA-ready. Not NBA ready in the sense that he is going to win Rookie of the Year or be a starter. He is NBA-ready in the sense that the things he does well will translate to the NBA. This will allow him to provide relief to Karl-Anthony Towns and Gorgui Dieng. He will give the Wolves a big athletic presence off the bench.
At only 20 years old, his ceiling is very high. Not only was he a good pick for the Timberwolves, but the Wolves are also a great fit for him. He will get minutes right away while not being asked to do too much as a rookie. Here’s a look at why Patton was such a great pick for Minnesota.
Jan 7, 2017; Providence, RI, USA; Creighton Bluejays center Justin Patton (23) blocks a shot from Providence Friars forward Emmitt Holt (15) during the second half at the Dunkin Donuts Center. The Bluejays won 78-64. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
5. He has excellent size
Every once in a while, an undersized player will shock everyone and get the job done. When drafting a player that is undersized there is already a risk that player might not translate to the NBA. That is not the case with Justin Patton.
Patton is 7’0″ and 226 pounds, per his NBA Draft profile. With his height, frame and current weight there is room for him to put on muscle. In addition to that, he has a 7’3″ wingspan. Being long helps him grab rebounds, contest shots and defend the rim.
His combination of height and wingspan will make other teams respect his presence. When Towns is on the bench, opposing teams will not be able to play small-ball. If they do, Patton has an opportunity to dominate the game.
Jan 25, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Creighton Bluejays center Justin Patton (23) drives to the basket as Georgetown Hoyas center Jessie Govan (15) defends in the first half at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
For a bigger guy, Patton has excellent athleticism. His jumping and agility are above-average for someone of his stature.
He is light-footed and able to move quickly without the ball. Because of that he often cuts to the basket to beat his defender for a score. This results in a lot of lob passes and dunks.
Because of this quickness he is also effective at guarding multiple positions on a hedge or a complete switch. This makes him a very versatile defender. That is something that Dieng and Towns are both working to improve.
His ability to leap also gives him an advantage. Patton blocks shots and defends the rim. He uses his speed on defense to get to the ball.
Justin Patton’s athleticism also makes him a great fit for the young Minnesota Timberwolves.
Feb 19, 2017; Omaha, NE, USA; Creighton Bluejays center Justin Patton (23) shoots over Georgetown Hoyas center Jessie Govan (15) at CenturyLink Center Omaha. Creighton defeated Georgetown 87-70. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
3. Offensively efficient
Justin Patton is a very efficient scorer. He takes good shot attempts. In fact, he made 81.3 percent of his shots at Creighton. He uses his size and athleticism to get a lot of high percentage finishes at the rim.
Patton is not a high volume shooter or scorer, but he can shoot an open midrange shot or three-pointer if needed. Shooting from midrange and three is an area of his game that will likely improve later in his career.
Luckily with a team like Minnesota, other players will draw attention and Patton can take advantage cutting to the basket for big, momentum-building dunks. The video below shows how Patton uses his athleticism to get to the hoop and score with an acrobatic finish.
When Justin Patton comes in the game for Towns, the Wolves can relax. Patton will not force shots and will be efficient with the ball in his hands. You can’t ask for much more than that from a rotational bench big man.
Feb 22, 2017; Omaha, NE, USA; Providence Friars forward Emmitt Holt (15) looks to pass against Creighton Bluejays center Justin Patton (23) at CenturyLink Center Omaha. Providence defeated Creighton 68-66. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
This is a part of his game that will give the Minnesota Timberwolves a boost right away. Patton is very versatile on defense. His size and athleticism makes him able to defend multiple positions.
Combine that with his hustle and you have a very solid defender. In the video below you will see Patton do two things very well that many big men struggle to do.
Justin Patton was able to show on the screen to disrupt penetration. He quickly recovered and found his man.
After that, he helped the defender that got beat and finished the play with a block. Below is another example of what he will bring to the Timberwolves defensively.
Once again, he displays phenomenal vision by finding his man while keep an eye on the ball. Patton effectively guards his man while helping at the same time. Because of this, he was able to effectively help both times and block both shots.
Feb 22, 2017; Omaha, NE, USA; Creighton Bluejays center Justin Patton (23) drives against Providence Friars forward Emmitt Holt (15) at CenturyLink Center Omaha. Providence defeated Creighton 68-66. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
1. Highly skilled
There is a reason Justin Patton is so skilled offensively. Patton was 6’2″ during the start of his freshman season in high school. By the start of his sophomore season he was 6’9″. Not being a big man your entire life has some positives. He is now a big man who has many skills of a guard.
He dribbles well, passes well and can knock down an open shot. In fact he made over half of his three-point attempts at Creighton. He only took 15 three-point shots, but making eight makes that an impressive stat for a center. That is a part of his game hey might develop to stretch the floor. In the video below you will see his skill in action.
1. Ballhandling and body control 2. Speed and Transition
Patton used his ball handling to take the defender to the basket. That ability will force defenders to respect him with the ball in his hands. He will be able to drive by them if they do not play him tough.
Justin Patton is a great addition to the Minnesota Timberwolves. His impact will be felt immediately off the bench. He is a young, big, athletic center that will play a big role for the Minnesota Timberwolves next season.