It’s been a recurring theme with Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey after games recently. He keeps singling out Patrick Patterson for praise despite the forward’s typically unspectacular scoring and rebounding. Casey likes Patterson’s defense and three-point shooting and he’s been making a point of illustrating just how big an impact his backup power forward has been having by going to the only stat on the game sheet that shows his value – the plus/minus.
“Pat was a plus 23 and he was three for four from the field,” Casey said after the road win over Detroit on Monday. “So he was doing some energetic things defensively. Active, moving without the basketball which is just as important. He was screening and creating space.
“I thought Pat did an excellent job of that tonight, of challenging, of running guys off the three-point line.”
It was actually an above average offensive night for Patterson in Detroit as he scored 9 points and Casey didn’t even seem to notice his power forward had zero rebounds. It was the +23 that caught his Coach’s eye – again. On the season, Patterson is averaging 6.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 24.2 minutes while shooting 34.7 percent from three-point range.
Patterson leads his team in the much maligned plus/minus stat with a +5.3 on the season. Kyle Lowry is second on the Raptors with a +4.9.
It doesn’t take a cynic to figure out Casey has been doing a sales job on Patterson’s value to the Raptors lately. Casey plays Patterson 8.7 minutes in the fourth quarter on average which is more than any other player on the team except Lowry and Cory Joseph and he knows Patterson is president and general manager Masai Ujiri’s best trade asset heading towards the NBA trade deadline.
Casey might not be wrong to be trying to protect (or promote?) one of his go-to fourth quarter guys either. Since Toronto began their current 14 win and 1 loss streak, Patterson has stepped his game even further. The points and rebounds have barely deviated from his season averages despite playing 27.5 minutes per game and shooting an improved 39.6 percent from three-point range, however, his team leading plus/minus has been averaging +11.1 and Casey hasn’t been shy about mentioning that stat after games on a regular basis.
This isn’t Casey’s first rodeo. He can read the same articles suggesting Ujiri is on the hunt for a power forward as everyone else and he might just know it for a fact as well – not that he could say anything. Casey can, however, let everyone know – subtly – the guys he likes on his current roster and why. Especially the guys that don’t have the jump off the page stats that make their value obvious.
Either as a sales job to the Toronto media just in case Ujiri doesn’t bring in an impact power forward in trade or to try and raise Patterson’s profile so Ujiri can make such a deal actually happen at the trade deadline, the message remains the same. Patterson’s value is a lot higher than just the points and rebounds he puts up each night and if you believe the message, Ujiri will have to land a pretty impressive player to make trading Patterson worth it.