Lamar Patterson is more than just a regular second-round draft choice. The Atlanta Hawks liked him enough to trade into the 48th spot of the 2014 NBA Draft and select him while knowing that he was unlikely to make the 2014-15 roster. The Hawks worked with Patterson and his agent to get him placed in a good developmental situation with Tofas SC in the Turkish League where he has played both wing positions and even spent a small amount of time at point guard.
Patterson had a rough time in his stint in the NBA Summer League where he struggled with his shot and looked behind defensively. While he is not a dominant player in the Turkish league, he has been able to put up a 46/38/74 shooting split--similar to the 44/39/75 split posted in his senior year at Pitt. It would be more encouraging to project him as an elite shooter if those last two number were 40% from three and 80% from the free throw line. While Patterson is not the type of guy who is automatic when left open, he is a shot-maker who is able to shoot well when covered due to his ability to elevate and maintain a high release point. He continues to possess a beautiful stroke that often leaves me surprised that he does not convert a higher percentage of perimeter shots.
Through 18 games, Patterson is averaging 10.5 points, 2.1 assists, and 3.4 rebounds in Turkish League competition. The most bothersome number to this point beyond his free-throw percentage is his 2.6 turnovers per game. That number is partly due to him occasionally playing out of position, but Atlanta would certainly like to see his assists outdistance his turnovers going forward. He has shown some progress in having 14 assists versus 11 turnovers in his last 6 outings. He has also averaged 12.3 points and 4.0 rebounds during the same stretch. Patterson is a very strong defensive rebounder from his wing position which could help him in finding a spot in Atlanta.
Patterson is coming off a well-balanced showing in a 89-76 loss to Dario Saric and Anadolu Efes, the best team in the Turkish League. He scored 10 points while adding 3 rebounds and 4 steals while playing across 3 positions. In the midst of the loss, Patterson posted his strongest highlight of the season while attacking the basket from the point position (note: Saric is #9 who enters the screen in bottom right corner):
Patterson will turn 24 prior to the next NBA season. For a statistical comparison, Jordan Farmer averaged 14 points and 3.6 assists on a 44/40/86 split while playing in the Turkish League at age 25. While Patterson is a better defender than Farmer, he currently compares similarly to Farmer as players who are not likely to help a good NBA bench. However, Patterson's court vision, handle on the wing, and time ahead to continue developing still give him a shot at becoming a rotation player for the Hawks. Reports have already come out that Patterson is expected to be with Atlanta for the 2015 NBA Summer League:
Atlanta are in Istanbul monitoring draft-and-stash shooter Lamar Patterson. Told he'll re-up with the Hawks for Summer League.
— David Pick (@IAmDPick) February 9, 2015
Patterson's journey to make Atlanta's 2015-16 roster contains a cobblestone path of variables, but it is not too difficult to see him reaching an NBA destination next season. If DeMarre Carroll re-signs with Atlanta to join Kyle Korver, Thabo Sefolosha, and Kent Bazemore as 4 wing players under contract, Atlanta will have 1-2 spots to fill with a free agent, draft pick, or current asset. With Atlanta having so much success with continuity, Patterson may have the advantage in landing one of only a couple of open spots on the Atlanta roster if John Jenkins does not return.
Atlanta's current depth, a 2015 lottery pick, and available cap space means the Hawks continue to have a lot of options that could potentially block Patterson making the roster. With two second-round All-Stars in Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver, the Hawks are not likely to give up on their recent selection too soon. Marc Gasol was drafted and stashed with the #48 pick in 2007, so Patterson's path to the NBA from his draft slot is not unprecedented. With the season Atlanta is having, precedent is becoming increasingly irrelevant anyway.