Is Patrick Patterson good enough to start for the Toronto Raptors?


Despite heavy campaigning among fans for the Toronto Raptors to pickup an elite power forward this summer, it seems as though Patrick Patterson will be the go-to starter for the team during the 2015/16 season. This will be the first season of Patterson’s five-year career that he will be a team’s starter from day one, but GM Masai Ujiri has clearly put his confidence in the young stretch-four. Is Patterson the man for the job?

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The good news with a player like Patterson is he offers a completely different skill set than franchise cornerstone Jonas Valanciunas. Whereas JV is a strong scorer on the inside and an apt rebounder, Patterson can space the floor and defend the perimeter. This means the Raptors will get a lot of variety out of their bigs in the starting rotation, which should frustrate opposing teams.

In 2014/15, Patterson averaged 8.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game on 45% shooting from the field and 37% from long-range. Keep in mind, he played just 26.6 minutes per game, so his numbers will swell a bit this year. Overall, it was a decent campaign, though he failed to improve on the weaker points of his game. Unfortunately, it seems as though Patterson has pretty well reached his ceiling, so don’t expect to see a massive leap into stardom anytime soon.

Patterson’s biggest flaw, which becomes apparent almost immediately when he steps onto the floor, is his rebounding. He is one of the league’s worst glass eating power forwards, ranking 79th league-wide last season. For reference, that tied him with Michael Carter-Williams, a point guard for the Milwaukee Bucks. It seems to be a mix of effort, leaping ability and reflexes that is holding Patterson back, but whatever it is, no coach has been able to fix it thus far in his career.

In the starting lineup, he will force JV to work his butt off to get to rebounds. This will obviously have adverse effects for the team, since Valanciunas will tire more easily and the opposing team will earn a few more rebounds than they did against the Raps last season. Still, Patterson’s ability to spread the floor should not be overlooked.

His capable three-point shooting ability will create space for JV inside by drawing defenders outside of the paint. This should make Kyle Lowry’s job easier as well, because he will be able to drive off the dribble and either go for a layup himself or pass to his tall Lithuanian friend. Basically, Patterson will create options that have not previously existed in the starting lineup.

Overall, he is not an ideal starter, but the Raptors are probably no worse off than they were with Amir Johnson in the folds. As long as head coach Dwane Casey draws up plays that work to Patterson’s strengths, the Raptors should be just fine.

Next: How does Cory Joseph help the Raptors?

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