Weight: 235 pounds
Position: Power forward/Center
Years in NBA: 9 (prior to this one)
Key Stats: 4.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 0.6 assists, and 0.1 steals in 11.9 minutes per game across 51 games played (18 started) on 40.4/38.7/79.4 shooting splits
Contract Status: On a one-year veteran’s minimum of $2.3M, unrestricted free agent this summer
Patrick Patterson was signed to a minimum deal late last summer after the Thunder bought him out. A key role player for the Raptors in the mid-2010s in their rise as an Eastern Conference power, Patterson had been dreadful with OKC, and many fans and writers thought he was cooked. Some people questioned why the Clippers were signing Patterson at all, and nearly everyone thought he’d just be a 13th man that would play in blowouts or in spot minutes when other players were injured.
Patterson far surpassed all expectations to re-establish himself as a legitimate NBA rotation player. Doc Rivers stunned expectations when he started Patterson during much of October and November as Paul George recovered from offseason surgery and Kawhi Leonard dealt with an injury. While I’m not sure this was a great decision (JaMychal Green is just a much better player), there’s no denying that Patterson played well enough. He hit threes, played mostly competent defense, and was a good fit in the Clippers starting five.
His role faded over the course of the season as the Clippers got healthy, but Doc continued to turn to him frequently as a change of pace or to provide a bit more shooting. He rarely made mistakes on offense (though he is a bit shot happy), was in the right place defensively, and made his open threes. Essentially, rather than being a rarely-used 13th or 14th man, Patterson was a truly useful 11th man.
Future with Clippers
Patterson is an unrestricted free agent this summer (fall, really), which is good news for him and bad news for the Clippers keeping him. He’s proven he still has quite a bit to offer NBA teams as a plus outside shooter from the big man positions, and should be able to garner a contract somewhat above the minimum somewhere else.
The Clippers, however, will be strapped for money, especially if they re-sign Montrezl Harrell and Marcus Morris, and the fringes of their roster will need to as cheap as possible. Retaining Morris (and presumably JaMychal Green) would also leave less room for Patterson, especially as rookie Mfiondu Kabengele will hopefully get more of a role in his second season.
Still, if the Clippers win the championship, or even make a deep run, Patterson might give up some money to stay with a legitimate title contender. As an aging veteran who’s never won a ring and has made decent money in his career, a title could be more important to him than a larger contract. So, while I think it’s probably unlikely Patterson is a Clipper in 2021, it’s certainly not impossible.