After redshirting his first year at Creighton, Justin Patton entered his freshman season completely off of NBA Draft radars. However, it didn’t take long for scouts to take notice of the 6-11 center. He’s an athletic big man possessing superb length with a 7-3 wingspan and 9-4 standing reach. Patton is still relatively raw on both ends of the floor, but he shows impressive flashes in just about every area of the game.
Patton was extremely efficient on offense, making 68% of his attempts inside the three-point line. He’s an active participant in transition, running the floor and making himself available for easy buckets at the rim. The majority of his field goals are created by others. He’s an easy lob target using his reliable hands, superb reach and dynamic leaping ability in space to grab everything his teammates throw his way. He’s also a good target for rolls to the rim off of screens, but he tends to avoid contact in the paint, averaging just 2.5 FTA per game. If Patton wants to be a reliable finisher in the NBA, he’ll have to improve his toughness and aggressiveness going to the rim. At just 230 lbs., he doesn’t look to post up often, though he can hit the occasional jump hook. He gets pushed off his spots in the low-post and will need to add some more bulk to his frame.
Where Patton is an especially interesting prospect is with his flashes of perimeter skills. He only took 14 three-pointers this season, but he made eight of them. He doesn’t have great shooting mechanics and only shot 52% from the free-throw line, but he certainly shows potential to become a jump shooting threat. He’s also capable of being a distributor within an offense. He makes simple, smart passes to backdoor cutters and can use either hand to whip post passes across court to open shooters. His inexperience still shows as he can get sped up at times which leads to silly turnovers in the post. He does display a decent handle for a big man and has potential to be a mid-post weapon. If Patton is able to further develop his jump shot, ball-handling and decision making he can be a major mismatch at the center position.
Defensively, Patton has the physical tools and high motor to become a good defender but currently has poor technique and instincts on that end of the floor. He uses his length to gather some steals and blocks, but needs to do better at getting himself in position to make plays. His biggest strength on defense will be his ability to slide his feet and contain switches along the perimeter. His footwork and defensive stance are still sloppy, but his athleticism will help him hold his own against quicker players. Patton’s lack of strength shows up on the defensive end as well. He gets out-muscled in the post and struggles to gather defensive rebounds. He will need to improve his discipline, awareness and strength to become an impactful defender, but the tools are certainly there.
Justin Patton is filled with potential that a team will hope they can fully unlock. He already possesses tremendous size and length that makes him a reliable finisher around the rim. Adding more strength and polish to his game can help him become a major weapon at the next level. The NBA is becoming perimeter oriented and Patton has the athleticism to survive away from the post on both ends of the floor. He has immense upside, especially if he develops a reliable jump shot and is able to become a more disciplined rim protector.