Toronto Raptors stretch-four Patrick Patterson has started out the season in a shooting slump. All too often it looks like he has been turning down shots from the three-point line and the usually reliable power forward has only averaged 5.4 points and 4.3 rebounds thru his first 22 games.
Head coach Dwane Casey counts on Patterson as a big man who can defend the perimeter against other stretch-fours as well as being able to space the floor at the other end and knock down close to 40 percent of his long range attempts. However, getting off to a slow start is really nothing new. Patterson has averaged just 33.3 percent from three-point range in the month of November for his career and that’s what he averaged this year.
This time may be a little different however. Patterson has been trying to expand his game by attempting to blow-by defenders that crowd him on the perimeter. The results have been mixed, but it’s a skill-set the big man needs to add to his arsenal.
“Pretty much it’s my in-between game, so if they run me off, being able to either score the basketball or provide opportunities for my teammates,” Patterson told Pro Bball Report. “If they run me off, being able to do something else. Teams aren’t allowing me to shoot as many threes as I used to and the more threes you shoot, the better you shoot, the more often teams will run you off, so that’s what they have been doing.
“This summer was all about working on my in-between game and being able to make a good pass to an open teammate or just create a shot for me off the bounce.”
One of the side benefits of being willing to come in off the perimeter has been a more active Patterson on the glass. While he’s not grabbing any more rebounds than before, he is fighting for more contested rebounds.
“I am just attacking the glass,” Patterson said. “Staying aggressive, finding my opportunities to attack the glass and also get back on defense and in transition. Luckily I’ve been getting some rebounds when my teammates need me to get them, but it’s all about consistency.”
If history is an indicator, the shooting slump may about to end. Patterson’s best shooting month over his career has been December when he averages 41.8 percent from three-point range. The first few games of the month this year haven’t measured up yet, but there is still a long ways to go.
“Honestly I have no idea (why),” Patterson said. “Hopefully it continues, but is there anything different that I do? No. It’s all the same routine. Maybe my shots just decide to fall for some reason in December, but I am honestly not sure why.”
There is one reason why Patterson may have a history of slow starts. He has never started a season playing with the same guys in his unit on the floor. It seems like every year he has to rebuild chemistry with new teammates and more importantly a new guard. Last year it was Lou Williams coming in off the bench and dominating the ball. This year it’s a very different style with Cory Joseph and virtually an entirely new second unit that he needs to mesh with in order to get the clean looks he needs to get his three-point percentage up.
“Just getting back into the swing of things,” Patterson said. “Getting used to the teammates, getting used to the system again, getting used to playing at the NBA level again.
“From the trade my first year to adding on Lou (Williams) and J.J. (James Johnson) my second year to being the only one left from the trade and having Bismack (Biyombo) and Cory Joseph, so it just seems like one thing after another with me as far as adapting to a new system and adapting to new teammates.
“It just takes time. I am a team oriented guy. I care more about my teammates than myself. It takes time to get used to everybody and get comfortable out there.”
History suggests we’ll see the old Patterson nailing three-balls at critical moments with consistency soon enough. As Coach Casey strongly believes, shooters don’t forget how to shoot. This shooting slump will end and with all the injuries the Raptors have been experiencing, the sooner the better.