Since his first game with the LA Clippers Patrick Patterson’s role has been somewhat of an enigma.
Editor’s Note: These numbers reflect Patrick Patterson’s stats prior to the LA Clippers win over the Sacramento Kings on December 31.
Is Patrick Patterson a starter? Is he a bench player? Will he even play? As we get closer to the halfway mark of the season for the LA Clippers and dig into his numbers his true value and purpose are beginning to take shape. Spoiler: he’s better than you think.
In Patrick Patterson’s first eleven games of the season as a Clipper he was a part of the team’s starting lineup. Even with Paul George out it left a lot of people puzzled; most expected him to be a bench player if anything considering the team’s depth. But start he did. When Paul George made his much awaited debut as a Clipper Patterson predictably lost his role as one of the starting five. Only two games after that he had back to back DNPs, and even when he was folded back into the rotation he was playing well under ten minutes a game.
Since then, Patterson has only started in three games; two due to necessity around injuries, and one glorious Christmas day with a fully healthy team. All this is to say that Patrick Patterson is the consummate role player. He’s there when you need him to start, he’s there to come off the bench, he’s there even if you don’t need him. Not once has he complained, at least publicly, about the fluidity of his purpose on the team. He just puts his head down and does his best.
When you dive into his advance stats the numbers tell us what his best role is. When you find out how and when he’s most useful his purpose and value really start to shine.
No one seems to have been more affected by Doc’s “sliding lineup” more than 2Pat. As a result of all his movement there’s a lot of different sample sizes to pull from to find his best fit. According to Basketball Reference when Patterson comes off the bench he’s shooting 40% from distance and 43% from the field with a +/- of +15.3
His minutes splits show that when playing between 20-29 minutes, which has happened seven times this season, he’s shooting an astonishing 54% from three, and 47% from the field. In that time frame he’s a +28.5.
Take a step back and his offensive numbers for the season, no minutes filter or role splits, he’s shooting 39.2% from the arc and a 56.3% effective field goal percentage. His points per game don’t jump off the sheet, but they also don’t need to; Patterson’s job is knock down shots in limited minutes and stay in front of his guy on defense. He’s clearly been efficient offensively in certain roles and he’s posting a personal defensive rating of 100.9 according to NBA.com which is above the league average.
Most of Patterson’s time this season has come alongside Patrick Beverley, Landry Shamet, Kawhi Leonard, and Ivica Zubac. That lineup has played 190 possessions together and mostly with Patterson as a starter. This particular group of Clippers have been able to hold their opponents to 94.1 points per hundred possessions. Almost all of their defensive numbers are in the 90th percentile, which is absolutely elite.
With Patterson it appears to be give and take with offense and defense, in his possessions with Lou Williams, Landry Shamet, Kawhi Leonard and Montrezl Harrell they have scored a shocking 159.1 points per 100 possessions. That same lineup has also allowed 113 points per 100 possessions.
The point is this- Patrick Patterson has had one of the least stable roles on the Clippers this year, but every time his number is called he gives it his all. That alone fits the DNA of this team. He has been the perfect role player in attitude, and his ability to affect the game is still there. Almost halfway through the season he has proven to be the valuable vet the front office believed he could be when they signed him.