Trivia Question: Who was on the cover of SLAM 137? John Calipari, Demarcus Cousins, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe and? The answer is the Raptors' very own, Patrick Patterson. Although 2Pat hasn't been able to keep pace with his three more talented College teammates, he has nonetheless had a solid five year NBA career. It hasn't been spectacular, and he has yet to find his "I've arrived" moment, but the same could be said of a majority of NBA role players. Will this be the season that Patrick Patterson makes the rest of the league take notice?
Patrick Patterson the Starter
With Amir Johnson suiting up in Boston, the starting power forward spot is up for grabs for the first time in years. While Dwane Casey's preseason rotations have not given a definitive answer, its safe to assume that the only unsettled starting spot will go to either Patterson or new Raptor Luis Scola. Patterson has made it no secret that although he's willing to accept any role (see: consummate professional), that he would like to start. Personally, I think that the position will be 2Pat's to lose. Although he's not the crafty back to the basket threat that Scola is, his 3-point range makes him a better natural fit next to Jonas. Also, while Patterson isn't the greatest rim protector, he does possess good lateral quickness which can be an asset depending on the pick and roll defense that Casey chooses to implement this season.
Patrick Patterson's Role
While Patterson has been mostly a bench player during his stint with the Raptors, he has experience being a full time starter. Similar to when he started alongside James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin, and Omer Asik back in 2013, if he were to start with the Raps, he would be the 5th option. Although this likely means little to no play calls, Patterson has the skill set to thrive in this role. For 2Pat, this would mean embracing said role, and letting the game come to him. If Patterson can make slight improvements as a position post defender, continue to make threes at a reliable rate, and clean up around the basket, he could be the perfect fifth piece to play alongside Lowry, DeRozan, Carroll and Valanciunas.
Patrick Patterson Projection
How 2Pat performs largely depends on how Coach Casey decides to distribute minutes. We know that the other four tarters will average 30+ minutes a night, but Patterson's production is really dependant on two external factors: how well Scola plays, and how much small ball the Raptors employ. That said, If Patterson can average a solid 30 minutes a night, I expect averages similar to those of last year with better efficiency. If 2Pat can overachieve and average 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists a game with a 48/38/80 split, the Raptors should be ecstatic.