Lamar Patterson Keeping Tabs On Hawks From Europe
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If there’s one thing that stands out about the 2014-15 Atlanta Hawks, it’s that no one stands out.
One might say that they don’t have a star, unless of course one says that they have four or five of them. What stands out is that they are all good teammates, unselfish and always prepared. They follow the coach's scheme and pay attention to the details. It’s hard to argue with winning 29 out of 31 games.
The Hawks have been savvy about getting those types of studious players in the past two years. When they traded away their 2015 second-round pick to Milwaukee to pluck Lamar Patterson from the second round of the 2014 draft, Atlanta was surely thinking along those lines.
Even though his play in the Las Vegas Summer League didn’t result in a spot on the Hawks' roster, there were highlights. One was when he averaged 10.5 points in his first two games. Another happened when he talked about the possibility of bringing his pet alligator to Atlanta.
The 6’5” guard certainly fits the profile of the typical Hawk wing. First and foremost, if there’s a good pass to be made, Patterson will make it. As a fifth-year senior at Pittsburgh, he averaged 4.3 assists per game as a shooting guard. He can shoot too, hitting 39% of his threes in both his final season at Pitt and this season in the Turkish Basketball League. Combine that with a 6’11” wingspan, and the 23-year-old makes for an intriguing prospect.
Patterson and the Hawks are still showing up strongly on each other’s radar. He keeps up with his former Vegas teammates.
“Me and Dennis talk all the time. Adriean and I, we talk."
“Every morning when I get up, I check ESPN, and I see that they’re winning.” Patterson said via a phone interview. “Every morning I look to see: ‘They got another win, they got another win’. It’s great to see that, you know? I definitely keep up with them.”
He wishes he could see more games live, but the local 4 a.m. tip times make watching games difficult.
The Hawks are keeping an eye out too. The team sent personnel to Turkey to watch Patterson play for Tofas Bursa a couple of months ago, and Patterson says that they may come again soon. The Hawks don’t have him under contract on their 15-man roster, but they do still hold his future NBA draft rights.
As far as positions go, Patterson notes, “I’ve been playing the 2 and 3 most times. But there have been games where I’ve played the point guard and power forward too, so I have to know all the plays from every position. It’s just something I’ve been doing my whole life.”
Playing for Bursa isn’t like playing the NBA, or even the Summer League for that matter. Until he could learn some basic Turkish and tune his ear to the local cadence of English in Bursa, communication was a concern. Unruly fans have occasionally made for a different experience too.
“We were playing Galatasaray in Istanbul, we’re winning and they just get rowdy. They start throwing coins and lighters and water bottles on the court. You don’t see that in America. Next thing you know, my point guard got hit directly in between the eyes on the bridge of his nose by a coin, and I was like, ‘Whoever threw that should be a quarterback in the NFL. That was a perfect throw.’ I’m glad he survived through that one.”
It seems likely that Patterson will play for the Summer League version of the Hawks again this year. Until then, he vows to continue to improve.
“I’m over here working, just trying to become the best player I possibly can. Hopefully I can suit up in a Hawks uniform next season.”
And about that alligator? Patterson must have learned about unselfishness from his mother. Mom knows how to take one for the team. While Patterson works on his basketball skills thousands of miles from home, she is back in the U.S. hesitantly taking care of Lamar’s pet.
Story by KL Chouinard