Patrick Patterson has nothing to lose with the Toronto Raptors


With three weeks to go before training camp, many players are busily working on drills to get ready for the 2015-16 season. Of anyone associated with the Toronto Raptors, power forward Patrick Patterson seems to have the most to gain this season. Going into camp, he is considered a lock for the starting power forward role, but he is also the team’s only prospective starter who has not cemented that status yet in the NBA.

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Right now, Patterson can best be considered a good, but certainly not great, contributor. Coming off the bench last season, he was decent, but his production did not warrant a promotion. None the less, with Amir Johnson moving to Boston, it is Patterson’s turn to stand up and show the world that he is a legitimate NBA starter, and not just an interim fill-in.

Last season, Patterson averaged 8.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, shooting 45% from the field and 37% from distance. Per 36 minutes, those numbers swell to 10.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Throughout his five-year career, he has figured primarily as an offensive weapon. Patterson is a prototypical stretch-four, compensating for minimal explosiveness and athleticism with a capable 3-point shot.

With 37% accuracy, there is no way head coach Dwane Casey will take the ball away from Patterson if he wants to shoot from beyond-the-arc. He also has good touch from just about anywhere, though he does not have the speed or dribbling skill to create his own shots. As a catch-and-shoot player, Patterson’s production can become pretty easy to defend against. Offensively, his goal this season should be to improve on his finishing around the hoop. If he can drive more effectively, he will earn more space for his 3-pointers, which could be huge for the team.

Defensively, Patterson is far more problematic. While he wasn’t really an issue for last year’s sub-par defensive team, his lack of skill will be more obvious this season. Patterson has never really shown the ability to fight opposing bigs around the hoop and get stops. Most strong players can muscle their way past him. In fact, he has never averaged more than one block per game during his NBA career. A reasonable goal this season would be to try alter a shot in the paint every game.

With expectations sitting pretty low, Patterson actually has a beautiful opportunity in front of him. If he manages to post solid numbers and help the Raptors win, he stands to improve his reputation exponentially. To do this, he will have to embody the gritty, aggressive effort Johnson used to win over fans. The opportunity is there, Patterson just has to snatch it. If not, expect Casey to replace him in the starting unit with Luis Scola pretty quickly.

A reasonable goal for Patterson this year would be to average 12 points and 7 rebounds per game.

Next: DeMar DeRozan needs to earn next year's contract

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