Creighton’s Justin Patton declares for NBA draft

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The NBA is deemphasizing centers. The 2017 draft is strong at other positions, particularly point guard.

But someone will be the first center drafted this year, and it might be Justin Patton.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Creighton freshman Justin Patton, a possible lottery selection, will enter the 2017 NBA draft and sign with an agent.

The 7-foot Justin Patton shot a blistering 81% at the rim, per Hoop-Math. He attacks the rim hard – in transition, as roll man, as a cutter. Patton needs a point guard to set him up, but the NBA is in an era of standout point guards. Odds favor him landing with a team that has a point guard who can, or eventually will be capable of, get him going.

Patton also has some post moves and just enough passing ability to believe that typically low-efficiency play will become useful for him at the next level. He even made 8-of-15 3-pointers (53%) – an incredibly small sample, but another hint there’s more of his game to unlock.

His 52% free-throw shooting should also say something about his stroke, and the fact that he generated just 2.5 free-throw attempts per game is a concern. Patton, who turns 20 before the draft, isn’t yet strong enough. He rebounded at less-than-ideal rate for a player his size.

But at least he showed flashes of rim protection, suggesting he has the requisite big-man skills once he gets stronger.

A team that drafts Patton should give him time to improve his body and pair him with a capable passing point guard. That’ll give him the best chance of panning out — and maybe even turning into a more diversely skilled player, though that’d just be a bonus.