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Clippings: An appreciation for the veteran presence of Patrick Patterson

He may not belong in a playoff rotation, but Patrick Patterson is making a positive impact on the Clippers anyway.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The Clippers raised some eyebrows when they re-signed Patrick Patterson this offseason. The veteran forward hadn’t exactly dazzled in his first season in Los Angeles, yet he somehow earned a raise in his return.

Being Paul George’s friend pays, yes, but Patterson has done his best to justify his place on the Clippers. Even if it’s unclear if Patterson will be on the court during high-stakes minutes, it’s helpful to have players like him during the regular season when his veteran mentorship and steadiness play a larger role.

Patterson has only appeared in six of 14 games this season for a total of 75 minutes, 13 of which have come in garbage time. That’s a stark contrast to last year when he was a starter for the first 11 contests. What hasn’t changed is the coaching staff’s confidence in him. Much as Doc Rivers saw Patterson as a security blanket to get the offense back on track, Ty Lue knows that Patterson is ready at a moment’s notice to go in the game and play to his fullest capability.

“I know our coaching staff, we always just tell Pat Pat — ‘just add water’ — because he is always ready,” Lue said before practice Tuesday. “Whenever you call him, he always seems to come through for you. So he’s great to have on your team.”

Patterson knows his role as a 3-point specialist. 16 of his 20 shots have come from beyond the arc, and he’s cashing in on 37.5 percent of them. Lineups with Patterson as the center have been particularly successful for the Clippers; the team has enough defensive talent at the other positions to compensate for his shortcomings, and Patterson is an even deadlier spacer than Serge Ibaka at the 5, allowing him to bomb away or simply clear room in the lane for his teammates.

But much of Patterson’s value stems from his leadership. Lue noted that Patterson leads 5-on-5 scrimmages with the younger players in practice. He also sets a positive example with his work ethic; it can be hard to play next superstars and have inconsistent usage day in and day out, but Patterson has the same mentality no matter what. That’s important for the younger Clippers to see, especially as their roles fluctuate.

“Pat Patterson, he’s definitely been real inspiring, I would say,” Terance Mann said Tuesday. “Just his ability to come off the bench, whenever. You know, he’ll get three DNPs in a row and come off the bench that fourth game and bring the fire, hit a couple shots, get some defensive stops, and act like he’s supposed to be there and he’s used to it. And just watching him do what he does when he gets in there, he’s definitely amazing. Sometimes he’ll play with us and teach us a lot of different things. Definitely, his ability to stay ready, is one thing that he’s brought to the table for the young guys and stuff that we feed off of and learn from.

Being a good guy in the locker room doesn’t necessarily validate the contract the Clippers gave Patterson, particularly with the team so close to the hard cap, but at least they have a player who brings positive value and who is a meaningful asset during the regular season. The Clippers don’t play another .500 team until February, so Patterson could play real minutes during this soft portion of the schedule. As his coaches and teammates know, he’ll be ready whenever he’s needed.

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