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After A Rough 2016, Lamar Patterson Looks To Start His 2017 With A Return Back To The NBA

After an up-and-down 2016 that featured him getting cut by the Hawks, Patterson looks to use his recent momentum with Reno to return to the NBA.

NBA: Sacramento Kings-Media Day Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Similar to most of the non-Donald Trump portion of the world, Lamar Patterson had a pretty lackluster 2016. At the start of the calendar year, Patterson was technically a member of the Atlanta Hawks. The main reason behind that phrasing rests with Patterson spending most of the 2nd half of the 2015-16 NBA season in two separate locations.

  1. Back of the Hawks bench
  2. In the D-League with either the Austin Spurs or Canton Charge through the flexible assignment rule.

In either area, Patterson never really stood as the most consistent player. During his time last year in the D-League, Patterson struggled to be an efficient perimeter threat as he shot 26% from beyond the arc, a strong departure from the 35% that he shot during the prior season with Tofas Bursa of the Turkish Basketball League. Even looking past that, Patterson wasn’t really productive while with either Austin or Canton as he only put up 12.8 points and 4.3 assists in only 26.9 minutes per game.

His offensive inconsistency combined with the Hawks already having solid core in place pushed the team to release him after the close of their season. While he was picked up by the Kings shortly after his Hawks release, Patterson’s stint in Sactown was cut short after he only played four preseason games. Following his release from the Kings, he joined Isaiah Cousins as affiliate players with the Reno Bighorns.

While he did take on a bigger role with the Bighorns, Patterson’s time with the Bighorns started off in the same way that it did in Austin and Canton: With an inefficient sputter. During his first twelve games with the team, Patterson put up 19.8 points, 4.6 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game on 39% from the field and 28% from beyond the arc. A lot of that inefficiency was probably due to Patterson being one of the lone viable scoring threats on the Bighorns which forced him into a bigger role than he’s ever previously had.

The turning point of Patterson’s stint with the Bighorns happened in a December 14th game against the Texas Legends. During that matchup, Patterson impressed by putting up 27 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds on 11-22 from the field. Although it wasn’t as prolific of a performance as we’ve seen from Pierre Jackson or Gary Payton Jr, it was jump start of what has been a terrific stretch for Patterson.

Since that game, Patterson has put 26.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.2 steals per game on 46% from the field and 35% from beyond the arc. For the first time since he was in college at Pitt, Patterson has been able combine solid efficiency with high-level production. Although it’s an incredibly small sample size, its a huge momentum booster as Patterson looks to transition into 2017.

Patterson’s transition into 2017 ended off with a bang during a Friday night game against the Texas Legends. During that game against the Legends, Patterson dominated as he put up 31 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals on 13-24 from the field and 5-11 from beyond the arc.

This game against the Legends was the cherry on the top of his recent excellence as Patterson just shined in every single aspect of the game. From on-ball cutting and defense to facilitating and perimeter shooting, Patterson showed the kind of skill-set that teams around the world have been waiting for since he started his pro career.

As a 6’5 wing, Patterson has developed a knack to work as a pretty solid facilitator. Over the course of the season, Patterson has shown an ability to facilitate through drive-and-kick or when he’s just working on the perimeter. An example of his work as a perimeter facilitator is seen in the play below where Patterson makes a great no-look pass to the cutting Chane Behanan.

Alongside facilitating, another area where Patterson has made some major strides is as a perimeter shooter. Over the course of the last few games, Patterson has just looked a lot more confident in launching up jumpers whether its through catch-and-shoot or off-the-dribble situations. That confidence was directly evident in that matchup against the Texas Legends as he pushed the Bighorns by continuing to launch up perimeter jumpers throughout the game. Patterson’s confidence is evident in the clip below as he puts up a pretty catch-and-shoot jumper.

Last month, Lamar Patterson seemed to be nearing the rockiest rough patch in his career as he was struggling to retain any kind of consistency during his early games with the Reno Bighorns. However, the last few weeks brought a sudden optimism for Patterson as he’s shined as one of the lone wings in the league that can shine as an on-ball cutter, facilitator and perimeter shooter. If he can retain this kind of efficiency into the new year, then we might be seeing Patterson back in the NBA relatively soon.