Weight: 230 lbs
Age: 30 years old
Position: Power Forward
NBA experience: 9 years
Key stats: Patterson played in 63 games for the Oklahoma City Thunder last season, starting five. He averaged 3.6 points in 13.7 minutes per game, while adding 2.3 rebounds. Patterson shot 37.4% on 2-pointers (3.5 shot attempts per game) and 33.6% on 3-pointers (1.3 attempts per game).
Contract status: Patterson signed a veteran’s minimum one-year/$2,331,593 deal with the Clippers this summer.
Expectations for Patrick Patterson this season are low, as they should be. He is entering the twilight of his NBA career — this will be his tenth season with his fifth team — and is well into the declining period of his game. Patterson has seen a steady drop in production and scoring since the 2013-14 season. Even with his ability to adapt to the new game and stretch the floor, Pat has had trouble finding consistent court time in recent years. Last season was a good example, as he was a healthy scratch in multiple games for a Thunder team that lacked both outside shooting and power forward depth outside of Jerami Grant. They found that a midseason trade for Markieff Morris would better ail their woes rather than giving Patterson burn. They also felt that adding Clipper legend Mike Muscala this summer would be better than keeping Patterson (Editor’s Note: Though the parting could well have been based on Patterson’s asking out as well), and Muscala is not very good.
You may be asking yourself, “wait what happened to Patterson? He was good in both Houston and Toronto, right?” To which the answer is, yes he was. Pat was power forward who could stretch the floor, shoot at a high clip (career 36.7% three-point shooter), hustle, and wasn’t afraid to do the dirty work defensively. He averaged above 10 points a game in back-to-back seasons in Houston and just below that mark in Toronto a few times. He was also a key member of those early Toronto playoff runs from 2013-2017, averaging above 10 points a game in back-to-back series in 2014 and 2015. Once upon a time, Patterson was an above average forward with a modern game.
Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s because of the injuries Patterson has routinely sustained throughout his career, maybe it’s just a game speeding past him, or maybe it was a bad fit in OKC, but PatPat just hasn’t been an effective NBA player now for a few seasons. It was so bad in the Bible Belt that he didn’t get a single minute in their playoff series against the Trail Blazers, despite being fully healthy.
In two seasons in OKC, Patterson had a combined net rating of -4.4, which is quite bad for a solid playoff team. Patterson has never been great defensively. He tries, but it’s to no avail most of the time. He’s 6’9” on a good day, so guarding big men consistently is a challenge, but he’s also fairly slow with his feet, so defending on the perimeter is tough as well. Does he get burned by a three or a quicker four, or does he get bodied in the paint by a bigger four or get switched onto a five? It’s tough to know what he can bring defensively in his year-30 season. Hopefully he can adjust and play well in spot minutes, but all signs point towards a struggle.
Where Patterson can help the Clippers, however, is offensively. While, again, he struggled mightily in OKC, Patterson was an offensive advanced stat darling in Toronto. He had three straight seasons — 2014-2017 — of an above 110 offensive rating with his peak only coming three seasons ago with a 114. Patterson knows how to shoot. This can’t be denied. He’s a great floor spacer who knows how to pick his spots and get in positions for a drive and kick. He’s also a solid pick and pop player who uses his big body to carve space on the perimeter, post screens, and fire away. Even in his first year with the Thunder, he still shot 38.6 percent from three on 2.1 attempts a game. Definitely nothing to shake your head at.
Patterson was brought in to L.A. to do just that. Play a few minutes a game if needed, and shoot a couple threes. If they go in? Fantastic. If not, it’s fine. He’ll only play a couple tics so guys like Moe Harkless, JaMychal Green, and Kawhi Leonard can get some quick rest. If he can make threes at a respectable rate and not play bad defense, Pat’s presence in a Clipper uniform won’t be a sour experience. Expectations are low, but he can help this team in minor ways if his shot is going down. I expect Pat to average around eight minutes a game and only appear in around 50% of the Clippers’ contests, if that. Anything more is found gold. Anything less is small potatoes and not that big of a deal.