Justin Patton makes sense for the Atlanta Hawks

Jan 14, 2017; Omaha, NE, USA; Creighton Bluejays center Justin Patton (23) goes up for a basket against the Truman State Bulldogs at CenturyLink Center Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 14, 2017; Omaha, NE, USA; Creighton Bluejays center Justin Patton (23) goes up for a basket against the Truman State Bulldogs at CenturyLink Center Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks have been linked with Creighton’s Justin Patton in several mock drafts. Would Patton be a perfect fit for the Hawks?

It’s draft season, Atlanta Hawks fans! It’s that special time of year where people that haven’t watched a full-game of college basketball in several years pretend to be experts on 18 to 22 year old prospects. What a time to be alive.

Fortunately, several writers on our staff at Soaring Down South are avid college basketball fans. We won’t pretend to be experts, but we’ve at least seen most of these guys play competitive basketball. If we don’t know much about a player, we’ll be sure to cite a source that knows more about the player than we do. It’s simple science. Or something like that.

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Enough about our process, let’s dig into our first prospect.

Mock Draft season is in full-swing. Everywhere you look someone has unleashed another one. The Hawks select 19th overall in the first-round, so they could select any number of talented players.

One name has been popping up regularly and has been heavily linked to the Hawks. That name is Justin Patton of Creighton University. Creighton is most known for being the school that brought the world Kyle Korver and Doug McDermott.

Korver’s time in Atlanta was splendid. Would another Blue Jay fit in with the Hawks? Patton isn’t the same type of player as Korver and McDermott, he isn’t a spot-up shooting wing.

Patton is the prototypical center for the modern NBA.

Patton is a 7-foot big man that can shoot, run the floor, and defend the rim. That’s everything an NBA team wants from their starting center these days. Will the skills he showed in college translate to the NBA? That’s the question on everyone’s mind.

Patton spent one season at Creighton, averaging 12.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game on 67.6 percent shooting. He also shot 53.3 percent from three-point range on 15 attempts. Patton is definitely raw, but his upside is tremendous. This is the type of high risk, high reward player the Hawks can afford to take with the 19th overall pick.

Chris Stone’s scouting report at The Step Back provides a thorough rundown of what you should expect from Patton at the next level, and information on how he performed during the 2016-17 college season. Stone outlines Patton’s strengths, most notably his skilled, efficient offensive game.

"Patton’s offense sticks out statistically among that grouping of big men and for good reason: The now 7-footer has been one of the most efficient scorers in the country. His 76.8 effective field goal percentage ranks third nationally. Patton has a mature offensive game for a redshirt freshman and can score in a variety of ways, including from the post, as a roll man, facing up or even occasionally stepping out beyond the 3-point arc where he’s made 5-of-8 attempts.When he gets a post touch, Patton often times — but not always — plays with patience as space clears out for him to go to work. He’s flashed signs of a good left-handed hook shot, but his go-to seems to be this nice up and under move that accentuates the quality of his footwork and regularly makes defenders look silly:"

He also points out his weaknesses.

"There are occasions when his 230-pound body gets out muscled by an opponent, but it’s rare at the collegiate level. This is a spot, though, where Patton will need to add some additional strength once he turns pro because he’ll regularly be facing bigger competition.The redshirt freshman will also face some questions about his rim protection at the NBA level, at least in terms of statistical production. Patton hasn’t been a dominant shot blocker in college and his reported wingspan (from 2014) is a mediocre 7-foot-1. Still, even if he isn’t actually blocking shots, his timing and understanding of the principles of verticality should help him contest field goal attempts in the paint"

Be sure to read the rest of Stone’s report to get the full picture of what Justin Patton brings to the table. He’s a talented player with intriguing upside, but also a large amount of risk. The Hawks have a starting center for the next two seasons in Dwight Howard, so they can afford to take some risks.

Patton wouldn’t have to play a significant role right away. He could use those two seasons with Howard in the starting role to develop and grow into a starting caliber player, taking the reins when Howard’s contract expires. He might not even be a rotation player during his rookie season, but if he reaches his ceiling he could develop into an All-Star.

Next: Atlanta Hawks 2016-17 Season Review: Moose

Centers that can shoot and protect the rim are hot commodities these days. You might have to take a risk to secure that type of player. Patton is a risk the Hawks should absolutely consider taking.