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Panthers in the Pros 2016-2017 Season Recap Part 1: NBA/D-League

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A look at how some former Panthers performed last season

Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Steven Adams

This seems like a good place to start our list. Adams is currently the only former Panther in the NBA. With Kevin Durant gone, Adams posted career highs in nearly every offensive category. He even had the highest usage rate of his career (16.2%), which on a Westbrook-led team equates to about 80% anywhere else. Adam’s offensive game remains similar to how it has been his entire career. He doesn’t shoot jump shots, has a few post moves, and is a beast in the pick and roll. Given that the NBA is 90% 3-pointers and pick and roll plays (and Adams has three career 3FGA), his success in the latter is crucial for him to have a productive career moving forward.

In the play above, Adams rolls perfectly off Mike Conley, finds the soft spot in the defense and gets his shot off before former DPOY Marc Gasol can contest it. Tony Allen (#9) tries to help, but he has to hopelessly watch Adams score. This play 100% makes up for anything Tony Allen did in March 2004.

Lamar Patterson

After playing 35 games with the Hawks last season, Patterson was given a pair of 10-day contracts in February to help offset an injury to Thabo Sefolosha. He saw action in five games, averaging 1.8 ppg. Patterson did the majority of his damage this season with the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Development Gatorade League. In 28 games, Patterson averaged 24.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, and 4.8 apg and was easily the Bighorns best player for most of the season.

In the first play, a teammate’s screen throws the defender off his angle just slightly, allowing Patterson to blow by him for the easy bucket. The defender in question? Gary Payton II, who should know a thing or two about perimeter defense. The second play showcases Patterson’s passing ability, an underrated aspect of his Pitt career.

Despite his offensive gifts, Patterson has not yet been able to find a home on an NBA roster. He is prone to turnovers (3.5 per game with Reno) and lacks the size and quickness to stay with most NBA players. The next two gifs show an ugly turnover (where was he looking?) and Patterson being beaten off the dribble.

I must say, though, that the second play is a microcosm of how defense is generally played in the D-League. Number 37 in white gets caught between running out to the open man in the corner and staying with his man underneath the basket. As these plays are fairly common, it is important to take Patterson’s high scoring average with a grain of salt. The pace is also much faster in the D-League, so much so that the D-League’s website offers a projections feature that adjusts D-League stats to an NBA pace.

Another knock on Patterson has been his shooting in the NBA. In 40 career games, he is only shooting 32.6% from the field (and 23.6% from 3-point range). However, it is incredibly difficult to shoot a high percentage on so few attempts (2.4 per game). Matt Bonner had a 12-year career (and picked up two rings) based solely on his ability to enter a game, make a three, grab a rebound or two and then go back to fetching Tim Duncan gatorade. Is Patterson a better basketball player than Matt Bonner? Most likely, but Bonner had a skill that is needed on the back end of an NBA rotation.

Patterson was waived by the Hawks at the end of February to address a personal issue and then by Reno on March 18. He has not yet signed with a team for next season. My guess is Patterson gives the NBA/D-League one more shot before heading overseas.

DeJuan Blair

After spending a few months playing in China, Blair resurfaced with the Texas Legends in January. A month later he was traded to the Los Angeles D-Fenders (now named South Bay Lakers. In 19 games, Blair averaged 11.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in 19 minutes a game. He still possesses the same knack for rebounding that made him a star at Pitt. New to his offensive repertoire in the past few years is a floater that he will attempt once or twice per game.

Unfortunately, Blair still commits way too many fouls (3.7 per game) to stay on the floor for an extended period. Like Patterson, he has difficulty staying with players at his position.

A player that has been compared to Blair in the past is Draymond Green. Coming out of college (Blair in 2009 and Green in 2012), they both had very similar pre-draft measurements. They’re about the same height, same wingspan, and had about the same vertical. Given that Blair was 40 pounds heavier than Green and could jump just as high, one could argue he possessed more athleticism. Trying to make the NBA as a 6’7” college center is almost impossible. Green realized this and tried to add as many skills to his game as possible while he was still at Michigan State. Looking at Green’s college stats he added a 3 point shot before his junior year. After 17 total attempts his first two years, Green launched 235 in his final two. His percentages weren’t elite (36% for his career), but it was enough to be an outside threat.

Blair may have suffered from being too good too fast at Pitt. That coupled with concerns about his knees forced him to the NBA before he was able to add to his skill set. Maybe he would have added an outside shot had he stayed longer and maybe not. Regardless he still seems determined to make it back to the league as an undersized post player. Blair is someone who would have had much more success had he entered the league in the 1990s as opposed to the late 2000s.

JJ Moore

Moore averaged 14.5 points per game in 46 games with the Long Island Nets last year. His hot and cold performances will remind us all of his Pitt career. One night he’ll score 13 and two days later he’ll pour in 36. Stop me if this sounds familiar.

-Stats via Basketball Reference, GLeague.com and G League app