No one is more frustrated with the Toronto Raptors Patrick Patterson’s season than Patrick Patterson. Head coach Dwane Casey’s favorite stretch-four hasn’t exactly been filling the net with long range bombs this year and it’s easy to see the frustration on Patterson’s face and in his game. Even after a good game or two, Patterson will downplay what just happened.
I’ll feel comfortable when I’m shooting (three-pointers) above 38 percent,” Patterson told Pro Bball Report recently. “Until then, no.”
It’s a long ways back to 38 percent shooting from three-point range for the 26-year-old young veteran power forward at this point. Even after starting out the 2016 new year with five games averaging 50 percent from the field and 50 percent from three, Patterson is still only shooting a dismal 37.7 percent from the field for the season and just 32.9 percent from three and it’s been over a year since this “3-and-D” stretch-four has enjoyed a month shooting over 34 percent from three-point range (52.6 percent, December 2014). Two of his last three months have been in the mid-20s. (December 2015 25.8 percent, April 2015 27.3 percent).
Patterson continues to enjoy the support of his head coach, probably because of his mobility and hustle on defense as much as Casey’s mantra that, ‘shooters don’t forget how to shoot.’ However, it’s been a while since Patterson has shown he can still be the same effective offensive threat that the team and their fans fell in love with after Patterson’s arrival from Sacramento in December 2013. That season Patterson was a 41.1 percent long range threat in Toronto.
On the bright side, the big man is shooting 37.7 percent from three at home this year, so maybe there’s hope he’ll figure things out on the road (28.8 percent)?
The rationale for considering Patterson a trade asset is simple. Despite his shooting struggles, he is easily the Raptors best trade asset that they might actually consider trading (outside of the Knicks first round draft pick). His $6.2 million salary is high enough to actually make any number of trades possible and with Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas signing extensions before the season started (creating a trade poison pill provision), the team just doesn’t have many other options.
The Raptors are having a decent enough season despite their injuries and it’s expected they’ll be able to hang onto the Atlantic Division crown and a playoff spot despite losing starting small forward DeMarre Carroll for the next couple of months. However, under the new rules that might not be enough to guarantee them home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs and this year success or failure will be determined by how far they can advance beyond the first round.
Getting an unfavorable playoff seeding because of injury woes just isn’t going to cut it after this summer’s upgrades and last spring’s playoff debacle. If president and general manager Masai Ujiri can figure out a way to upgrade at forward, he’s got to consider it.
It’s a very unsettled trade market in the NBA right now, so Ujiri may have no choice but to wait until closer to the trade deadline and that gives Patterson more time to get a handle on his own game, but Ujiri let trade opportunities pass him by last season and it cost his team in the playoffs. He isn’t going to make that mistake again. There will be teams with interesting talent available again this year.
In the East, Brooklyn needs draft picks and young players to build around. Starting combo forward Thaddeus Young might be a nice fit in the Raptors rotation? – especially with Carroll on the shelf.
In the West, Phoenix could look to re-tool/re-build as their season implodes and P.J. Tucker, Mirza Teletovic or Markieff Morris might be available.
13 teams in the East and 14 teams in the West shouldn’t have given up hope of attaining a playoff spot yet, but that’s likely to change by the end of January.
It’s no secret that Ujiri likes to develop his own players, but this time it’s different. The expectations and the stakes are higher. Skip disappointing the fans, if he wants to keep his roster together, Ujiri must show a commitment to winning and he’ll have to give up an asset or assets to get a player he believes can help the Raptors win in the playoffs this year. Patterson might just be the player he has to sacrifice to get a deal done.
“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.”