Forward Lamar Patterson had a breakout season last year. As a junior, Patterson averaged 10 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game, and 2.8 assists per game on 46% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc. Those were certainly encouraging numbers, but I am not sure anyone could have predicted he would take the big leap forward that he did as a senior.
He posted career bests in points per game (17.1), assists per game (4.3), and steals per game (1.4), while maintaining solid shooting percentages from the floor (44/39/75) despite taking over 200 more attempts, including nearly 100 more triples and 80 more free throw attempts.
At the end of the season, he was a Second-Team All-ACC selection as well as an honorable mention AP All-American. Despite his career accomplishments, there hasn't been a lot of rumblings (that we're hearing) about Patterson getting an opportunity in the NBA outside of being one of the 60 players invited to the NBA Draft Combine back in mid-May. So, while we wait on news of who Patterson is working out for leading up to the NBA Draft on the 26th, I am going to speculate on a few teams that might be interested in Patterson's service.
Now, while I don't think Patterson is going to get drafted, if he does, it will be in the late second round. I looked at the teams who currently have a pick starting with 50 and speculated who might be willing to use their pick on Patterson.
The Sixers own a whopping five second-round picks in the draft, but I don't think they'll keep all of them. They're very much still in rebuilding mode and only have six players under contract next season. With the 52nd and 54th pick in the draft, adding a player with a high basketball IQ such as Patterson makes sense. Heck, they recently brought in fellow Panther Talib Zanna for a workout, and drafting them both would give the team two players who understand the importance of defense.
However, that's definitely a long shot for a multitude of reasons: no team usually wants a majority of their players to be first or second year guys, and this team is going to have a hard time meeting the minimum salary requirements. Still, Patterson's ability to make those around him better could prove valuable in an environment where a bulk of the players are still trying to develop an actual offensive skill set. Defensively, Patterson has his limitations (athleticism) but plays well within the framework of the team's defense (an underrated quality of defense).
The Pacers mid-season collapse was of historic proportions, and despite a strong starting five, their bench has been woefully inconsistent the last several seasons. They made an ill-advised trade for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen at the trade deadline, and they won't be bringing Turner. That opens the door for Patterson as the Pacers hold the 57th pick in the draft.
This team is clearly in win-now mode, and Patterson is ready to contribute right away. He is a poor man's Evan Turner in that he is best with the ball in his hands, and isn't a great athlete. I think he has a much better stroke than Turner, but won't be as good defensively (Turner isn't great), and doesn't have the same physical measurements. Still, he can fit into their offensive system (do they have one?) in a similar capacity, and at a fraction of the price. Bottom line: Indiana needs guys who can help them immediately, and it's hard to find a more polished player at the end of the draft than Patterson.
San Antonio Spurs:
The organization once gambled on a former Pittsburgh Panther, DeJuan Blair, so why not another? Like the Sixers, San Antonio owns two second-round picks after 50; they own the 58th and 60th pick of the draft. The Spurs will most likely use one of those picks to draft an International prospect that will continue to develop overseas while they own the draft rights. But, they've also drafted a productive college player in the late second round over the last few years.
Last year, they drafted Deshaun Thomas from Ohio State, and two years ago they drafted Marcus Denmon from Missouri. In 2009, they drafted Blair and former Miami guard Jack McClinton in the second round. San Antonio likes productive players that are generally known quantities, and Patterson certainly fits that description. The Spurs get the most out of players that are otherwise castaways (Boris Diaw, Matt Bonner, and Patty Mills). If there was one team that could get the most from what Patterson has to offer, it's them.