Though Jimmy Butler may be the crown jewel of the Philadelphia 76ers recent trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, don’t overlook Justin Patton as he could be the steal of the deal.
Let’s get this out of the way right from the top: The Philadelphia 76ers shipped their starting forward tandem of Robert Covington and Dario Saric to Tom Thibodeau and the Minnesota Timberwolves because they desperately wanted to add a third certified superstar to their roster as soon as possible.
After striking out over the summer in their first, and likely only summer of ‘star hunting’ under (interim) GM Brett Brown, Elton Brand did not want his new team’s lukewarm start to become a trend and somehow flipped a consistent DNP-CD and a pair of inconsistent forwards for a consensus top-25 player without giving up a single future first-round pick.
But while Butler may have been the crown jewel of the team’s surprise Saturday trade, he’s far from the only prized addition the team made.
More from Philadelphia 76ers
You see, the Sixers just so happened to bring in a third-year big man by the name of Justin Patton as part of the deal that also included Jerryd Bayless and a future second-round pick. And if Patton can put it all together after a pair of foot injuries, the 76ers may have found themselves a good one.
Initially drafted out of Creighton by the Chicago Bulls, Patton was shipped to the Wolves as part of the OG Butler trade on June 22nd, in a move that also included Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the draft rights to Lauri Markkanen, in an attempt to add a valuable flex four-five alongside Karl-Anthony Towns.
However, unfortunately for Wolves nation, that dream will now go unanswered.
Patton suffered a left foot injury in practice for the 2017 Summer League before he could log a single minute of action for the T-Wolves, resulting in a single appearance in a green, blue, and white jersey, instead of spending almost the entirety of his (healthy) rookie campaign in the G-League. While this injury was unfortunate, after appearing in 39 games combined in 2018, it has to be behind him now, right?
Not so fast my friend.
Roughly nine months after undergoing his initial surgery, Patton went under the knife once more in April to ‘encourage further healing’ on his left foot, sidelining the former Bluejay ‘indefinitely”.
Sigh, it’s just like the Sixers to trade for a sidelined center who’s already had two surgeries before the age of 22. How did that first move work out?
Oh yeah, really, really well.
While it seems all but impossible that Patton could ascend the ranks and become arguably the best center in basketball like Joel Embiid has a little over 100 games into his professional career, he could very well become a stable, invaluable rotational piece capable of playing alongside both Ben Simmons and JoJo on the court, or as a reserve for either.
And if his game rises to the level of some pre-draft expectations, he could even become a solid two-way stretch-four with center size.
A high school guard who outgrew his position, Patton can shoot the ball from basically anywhere on the court, as highlighted by his 53 percent 3-point college shooting percentage while also possessing the ability to go at defenders with an eye for the ball. His college coach, Greg McDermott even went so far as to call Patton ‘the most talented player he’s ever coached‘.
That’s some pretty high praise when you consider that Greg has also coached his son Doug McDermott, the 11th overall pick in the 2014th NBA Draft.
Once again, will Patton ever become a four-time All-Star by the time he’s 29? Probably not, but could he outperform the price Philly paid for him, essentially Jerryd Bayless and a second round pick, with a free roster spot to add another player? Oh yeah, I think Justin Patton can do all of that and then some for the Philadelphia 76ers if he can get back on the court at some point this season.