Taking a flier on Justin Patton is good business – following his path to the OKC Thunder

OKC Thunder: Justin Patton (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder: Justin Patton (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
OKC Thunder: Justin Patton speaks with the media after being selected 16th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves at the 2017 NBA Draft (Photo by Stephen Pellegrino/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Draft night 2017:

Looking back to the summer of 2017 many pundits expected the then 19 year old to be selected in the lottery round. Jeremy Woo of SI.com and Hoops Hype both had him being selected 13th while the lowest he ranked by the national pundits was 20th.

In the end, the Chicago Bulls selected him just outside the lottery with the 16th pick. Patton was immediately on the move however as he was part of the trade package which sent Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves and returned Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the seventh pick Lauri Markkanen to the Bulls. Although Chicago is linked to Patton as his official drafting team the pick was made on behalf of the Wolves.

Considering Tom Thibodeau was desperate to add defensive acumen to pair in the frontcourt alongside Karl- Anthony Towns, at the time, the decision made a ton of sense. That’s because coming into the draft Patton projected to be a big man with defensive upside.

In the same draft many coveted Jonathan Issac who was selected sixth by the Magic. Issac was just one of many bigs in the 2017 draft class which was unusually loaded with quality big men. Case in point, this class boasted Issac, Markkanen, Zach Collins, Bam Adebayo, D.J. Wilson, John Collins, Harry Giles, Jarrett Allen, and Kyle Kuzma. And, that’s just the first-round picks who’ve gone on to play consistent minutes in the NBA. Patton was drafted after Adebayo and ahead of the other bigs listed and there was a good reason for it.

Looking at the top big on the list, Jonathan Issac, there are similarities between him and Patton. Both are defensive stalwarts, lanky, with high ceilings and the potential to develop offensively.