After being a redshirt freshman, Justin Patton broke onto the scene this year with Creighton. He averaged around 13 points and 6 rebounds while being one of the key players for a very solid ranked team. With so much uncertainty surrounding Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard, and with Mike Muscala hitting free agency this offseason, they could look to go big with their 19th overall pick. Patton is projected to be drafted around this spot.
If the Hawks do get Patton, it is a pure upside pick based on potential. This is hard to say of a guy who exceeded all his expectations his freshman year after being red-shirted, but the reality is that Patton, at 20 years old, won’t likely see playing time as a rookie because he is a very raw prospect. Finding a true seven-footer with the athleticism Patton possesses is a rarity. However, it will be up to him to put in the work to learn the ins and outs of the game to maximize that potential.
For example, Patton is best suited for a pick and roll offense, which would be right down Dennis Schroder’s alley. However, at this time he is likely too thin to be effective on the floor at the next level. You cannot teach being 7-feet tall and having the athleticism Patton has, but he still has to work on his body. Him only averaging around 6 rebounds per game as a 7-footer in college against weaker competition is worrisome.
One thing the Hawks could look at if Patton is on the board is his outside stroke. He rarely shot from the perimeter in college, but was successful when he did. If the Hawks think they can develop him into a better shooter, like they did with Paul Millsap for example, that could be a factor. What is strange, however, is that Patton was a terrible free throw shooter in college.
Big men take longer to develop, and Patton has time. However, he will have to add a bunch of strength if he ever plans on lasting as a center in the NBA. As of now, Patton will not be able to run the pick and roll, rebound, or shoot free throws when he hits the league. This could be a huge turnoff for the Hawks, but if they hold onto Dwight Howard, he will have time to develop.
Patton has great upside, but carries great great bust potential due to his lack of defensive tenacity. The Hawks would likely be better off taking a guy like Bam Adebayo or Caleb Swanigan, who are safer picks that still have good upside potential.