Patrick Patterson was off to a shaky start in Sacramento last season. His scoring was way down, his shooting was terrible and the Kings were losing a lot. Then he unexpectedly ended up in Toronto and everything changed. Patterson says playing for the Raptors boosted his confidence and it showed. Almost immediately he became an impact player and the longer he was there, the better he looked.
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Patterson was on a team where everyone had a role and accepted coaching and it changed his season.
“It just seems like everybody knows their role, everyone accepts their role, everybody embraces their role,” Patterson said. “There are no egos, no problems. We all know what we have to do on the court to get better. It is just a beautiful thing when everyone does that.”
With a defined role and support from his teammates and coaches, Patterson almost instantly rediscovered his shooting stroke and when the ball is going through the hoop, almost everyone plays better.
“(Confidence is from) coaches, coaching staff, teammates just telling me to shoot the ball,” Patterson said. “Whether I’m missing three or four or I’m hot, just shoot the ball, take advantage of my opportunities out there and just having a good relationship with my head coach. I am definitely thankful that (Coach Casey) is a Kentucky alum so we have that type of relationship and we get along well. Whenever you get along well with your teammates and your coaching staff, it makes everything a lot easier and when you are knocking down your shots, you are going to play better.
Patterson gives Casey a lot of the credit for helping him to improve over the season.
“(Casey) was one of the key reasons for us having such great success,” Patterson said. “His ability to teach and make us get better out there on the court.”
In Casey’s system, defense is key and Patterson has the ability to chase down those stretch fours and big wings that like to shoot out there on the perimeter that are often so difficult to guard. It’s something he has been working on since college and it seems to be improving in Toronto.
“(My Perimeter defense) started with Coach Calipari in college,” Patterson said. “From day one, instead of me working out with DeMarcus Cousins and Daniel Orton, he puts me with John Wall and the wings and the perimeter guys. From then on out with Coach McHale and the rest of the coaches in my career they wanted to play outside and inside. The strength coach and the trainers just allowed my footwork and my ankles to get stronger and better and coming here it was all about confidence and your relationship with your teammates and them believing in you and as it progressed on, I just got better and better.”
Last year’s progress wasn’t enough for Patterson and it isn’t enough for this young Raptors roster to hold onto the Atlantic Division crown let alone improve on their standings. As a group, they need to take a big step forward and Patterson has high expectations for himself and his teammates.
“Everyone should take a huge leap forward because we are going to hold ourselves accountable and put ourselves on another level,” Patterson said. “Everyone is going to be here early. Everyone is going to stay late. Everyone is going to get extra work in.”
Looking back at where Patterson was last November only serves to emphasize that basketball is a team game and just how much your teammates and coaches can impact on your performance. Patterson parked his ego at the door on his way into Toronto and got the support and confidence he needed to succeed when he arrived. Now it’s up to him to keep the trend going this summer and come back ready to help his team take another step forward.
Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.