Patrick Patterson is making me eat my words, and boy are they delectable. Usually, I like being right about everything, because deep down don’t we all? We’re human, and want to believe everything that comes out of our mouths. This time, I appear to be very wrong. Yet, I’m glad I was wrong.
Before the season, the acquisition of Patterson was met with some head scratching after notching back-to-back career worst years in Oklahoma City. For a Clippers team that, on paper, looked like they still needed a backup center and backup point guard, getting another stretch power forward, like the one they already had in JaMychal Green, seemed to be an unnecessary roster fill. Patterson, it appeared, would be an end of bench guy. A veteran who would be good in the locker room, could come in for 8-10 minutes in various games, maybe knock down a three, play some decent defense, and give daps on the bench the rest of the night.
It wouldn’t have been wrong if the collective Clipper fan mindset, after a pretty awesome preseason from Patterson, was “this is nice, but it’ll be hard for this to translate into the regular season.” Well, after last night’s career performance from Patterson, he is staking a claim to be a starter every night, and is showing why he is the perfect complementary piece to this star-laden Clipper team.
Thursday night, Patterson hit a career high six threes en route to 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting and a game high +30. Patterson was a big part of the 14-0 run the Clips went on to the start the game (a lead they never gave up), as he knocked down two kick quick threes, prompting a timeout from Warriors coach Steve Kerr. Defensively, Patterson was active early, effecting passing lanes, grabbing rebounds (this Clips team scares me in that department — didn’t look good on the boards last night against an undersized GSW team), and bodying guys like Kevon Looney, Draymond Green, and Marquese Chriss. Last night was probably the best game that Patterson has had in years. Even better? There’s no reason he can’t have games like this regularly.
Again, I know it’s been only two games. And yes, I know the Warriors suck defensively. And yes, I know he didn’t have his best game against the Lakers. However, Patterson has a skillset that will translate well year-round. I believe that Patterson will have more games like last night than that against LA.
Like Green, he doesn’t need to have the ball in his hands to be effective. He’s not elite offensively in the post, despite being a PF, but when he stretches the floor, it’s dangerous. He knows this too and his pairing with Zubac, who barely leaves the paint, is effective because of the spacing he provides for Zu in the post. Zu isn’t adept at creating offense for himself. But last night showed that, without crowding in the paint, Zu is effective. Patterson’s man has to make a choice. Does he help inside when someone is driving from the top of the key, looking to either go to the rack or make a pass, or does his man stick to him, subsequently leaving the paint barren defensively. Patterson being able to have his man outside of the post on guard-big pick-and-roll’s gives the Clips oodles of space to maneuver in a usually tight space. If it does collapse, guess who’s wide open in the corner? With Kawhi all of a sudden showing a vision that has eluded him for much of his career, expect Patterson to be WIDE open a lot as defenses are forced to collapse.
Another cool aspect to Patterson’s game last night was his ability to run the floor in transition, step into a shot and knock it down. He is a willing participant in running to a spot on the three-point line in transition and with the other talent on this Clipper roster, will continually find himself open as the defense scrambles to find people. This Clipper team is shooting from deep and running more than they did last season already. Like Green, again, Patterson will benefit from running in transition and finding the soft spots on the perimeter.
There is a reason Doc has Patterson starting. He’s a veteran who has played deep into the playoffs, has a high on-court IQ, knocks down open shots, bangs in the post defensively, and knows his role to a tee. To Patrick, I want to apologize for calling you “ineffective” in your player preview. I want to apologize for saying I was “iffy” on your movement to the Clippers. I want to apologize for saying that you were going to get very little burn this season. So far, you’ve been awesome and there are good indications your success will continue going forward.