Future Watch: Justin Patton Rookie Basketball Cards, Timberwolves – One of the biggest stories from the 2017 NBA Draft was the blockbuster trade between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Chicago Bulls. Minnesota’s coach and President of Basketball Operations, Tom Thibodeau, was in “win now” mode and was keen to bring Jimmy Butler in to help his team get to the next level. In a trade involving Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and the seventh overall pick, Thibodeau acquired Butler along with the Bulls’ first round pick at #16. They would use that pick to draft Justin Patton, center from Creighton University.
Patton was born in Riverdale, Georiga, but he moved to Nebraska at an early age and grew up just minutes from the Creighton campus. He attended Omaha North High School where he was rated by Scout.com as a five-star recruit. In an effort to stay close to home, Patton chose to attend Creighton where he redshirted in his first season.
Greg McDermott, Patton’s coach at Creighton, cited a number of reasons for why Justin would benefit from a redshirt in his first year. While standing seven feet tall with a 7’2” wingspan, Patton was fairly raw and would need time to develop his game for the next level. As a prep, he could easily dominate both ends of the floor with his size and length, but he would need to fill out more against college competition.
Justin Patton debuted for the Bluejays during the 2016-17 season and scored 12 points with eight boards in his first game. He would score a season high 25 points against St. Johns in January 4th, 2017. That year, he would go on to be named Big East Freshman of the Year and Second Team All-Big East. At the end of his redshirt freshman season, Patton signed with an agent and declared himself eligible for the 2017 NBA Draft.
Scouts saw Patton as a solid center prospect for the NBA. He had the right size and length to defend modern big men and score efficiently in the post. Like all prospects, there would be a learning curve, but many thought he could make an impact in a limited role for a team with playoff aspirations. Unfortunately, a nagging foot injury and Tom Thibodeau curbed that enthusiasm.
Patton was scheduled to appear in the 2017 NBA Summer League, but he broke his left foot in a workout and was sidelined indefinitely. Aside from a four minute appearance in a blowout loss to the Jazz on April 1st, Patton didn’t see the NBA floor. He would play in 38 games for Minnesota’s G-League affiliate, the Iowa Wolves. His G-League numbers were solid: 25.3 minutes per game with 12.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.4 blocks.
While 2017-18 may have been a lost NBA season for Patton, he’s a fine player to speculate on as a collector. The main obstacle for Patton to clear moving forward is Timberwolves czar Tom Thibodeau. Thibs’ antiquated coaching style does nothing to empower young players and one could argue it completely hinders their development. He also refuses to play his bench. There was certainly an opportunity for Patton to grab five to seven minutes a night, especially after the All-Star break when Jimmy Butler was down. Unfortunately, Patton was never given the chance.
On March 23rd in a home game against the Grizzlies, Thibodeau played an eight man rotation the entire night. This is during a point in the season where Memphis was actively trying to lose games in the hopes of securing a better draft pick. The game was close, but Memphis pulled away in the fourth quarter, holding the obviously gassed Timberwolves starters to 11 points. Nobody is saying Patton could have saved the game, but he could have spelled Karl Anthony-Towns and Taj Gibson a few minutes so they were fresh for the fourth quarter. In what should have been an easy win, the Timberwolves took a devastating loss that directly contributed to them rushing Jimmy Butler back to the court in an attempt to secure the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Moving forward, Patton’s career could go in a number of directions. Thibodeau could trade Patton for another former Bull, he could give him a minimal bench role or let him have another year in the G-League. The chances of Patton rising to a significant role for the Timberwolves in 2018-19 is slim, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bust. He has plenty of talent to succeed in the NBA and you won’t find a better price on his rookie cards than you can right now. He’s definitely worth a look and if he sees a change of scenery away from Thibodeau, or if his coach decides to change his methods, he could see a nice bump in collectability.
Justin Patton already has some great autographed rookie cards in the market. They can be found in 2017 Panini Contenders Collegiate Draft Picks Basketball. As a top draft pick, collectors can be assured to find NBA licensed rookie cards of Patton in the complete portfolio of 2017-18 Panini NBA basketball card products during the 2017-18 NBA season.
Future Watch: Justin Patton Rookie Basketball Cards, Timberwolves – Other Resources
- NBA.com Player Profile – Justin Patton
- Justin Patton – Secondary Market Pricing
- Future Watch: 2017 NBA Draft Recap, Most NBA-Ready Players
- Future Watch: 2017 NBA Summer League Top Rookie Players
Future Watch: Justin Patton Rookie Basketball Cards, Timberwolves – Image Gallery
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