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Justin Patton Is Ready For His Moment
His rookie season didn’t start the way it was supposed to.
Instead of taking part in training camp and preseason, hoping to crack the team’s rotation, Justin Patton instead cracked a bone in his left foot.
The 16th overall pick underwent surgery in July and instead of gearing up to be part of a winner, the 20-year-old was forced to sit out and wait.
Waiting isn’t something that’s new for Patton. In his freshman year at Creighton, Patton redshirted.
After recovering from surgery, Patton was assigned to the Iowa Wolves, a move that was expected after the Timberwolves acquired Patton on draft day in the Jimmy Butler deal. With posts like Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng, Taj Gibson and Nemanja Bjelica, the odds of playing a bunch of minutes were unlikely. Development was more important.
And he’s been getting that in Iowa.
In 24 games, Patton has averaged 12 points, five rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game while playing just 19.9 minutes per contest.
That equates to 21.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per 36 minutes.
“I feel great,” Patton said on Tuesday. “I feel like I’m getting back to myself. One hundred percent healthy. Happy to be playing basketball again.”
The next step for Patton is to be cleared with no minutes restriction, something that could happen this week with him in Minnesota before NBA All-Star Weekend.
“I can’t wait, just to prove what I can do in a full game,” Patton said. “Just situationally. Sometimes I’m out of the game and it gets away. Just see what I can do when I’m on the court the whole time.”
Patton has seen his fellow rookies have success, while he’s been rehabbing and on a G-League assignment. Players picked in front of him like Jayson Tatum, Lauri Markkanen, Dennis Smith and Donovan Mitchell have found success. And players picked behind him like John Collins, OG Anunoby and Kyle Kuzma have found their roles.
Patton isn’t letting that bother him. He’s happy for his friends and colleagues. He’ll join them soon.
“I’m just waiting on my turn, man,” Patton said. “All those are my guys. It’s cool to see them doing what they’re doing, but like I said, when it’s my turn, I’ll be able to join in those conversations with them.”
Patton has the support of the organization and the players on the team. Veteran and all-around good guy Jamal Crawford texted Patton nearly every day when he was in Iowa and would encourage him after bad games and congratulate him after good games.
He’s been called up by the Timberwolves right before All-Star break to practice with the team and get his foot checked out.
Maybe he’ll contribute to the team this season. Maybe he won’t.
Whenever he’s called up, Patton will be ready for his opportunity. He’s certainly put in the time.