Justin Patton Declares for 2017 NBA Draft, Will Sign an Agent

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistApril 5, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 31: Justin Patton #23 of the Creighton Bluejays blocks a shot against the Butler Bulldogs during the game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on January 31, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Creighton defeated Butler 76-67. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Creighton Bluejays redshirt freshman big man Justin Patton will declare for the 2017 NBA draft and hire an agent, the school announced Wednesday. 

The Vertical's Shams Charania first reported Patton intended to declare. 

"After much deliberation with my family and the Creighton coaching staff, I have decided the time is right to pursue my dream of playing professional basketball," Patton said, per the school's release. "I have loved every bit of my two years at Creighton."

A former 5-star recruit, according to Scout.com, Patton shined during his redshirt freshman season to the tune of 12.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 67.6 percent from the field. 

"He is everything except the brand name," an NBA scout told Bleacher Report's C.J. Moore. "If you went off only this year, you would have to argue he's the best big-man prospect in the draft."

Patton may not be the first big man off the board given the depth of this year's draft class, but he has the skill set necessary to be a lottery selection who can pay big dividends down the line once he adjusts to the speed and physicality of the pro game. 

At present, Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman has Patton listed as the No. 14 overall prospect on his big board. 

When it comes to his NBA projection, Patton has the makings of a prototypical modern 5. While he is a capable post scorer with his back to the basket, Patton also has the straight-line and lateral speed necessary to give defenses problems as a ball-handler or roll man. 

And while he's certainly not an established shooter by any means, Patton flashed a solid long-range stroke in a small sample during his lone year with the Bluejays. According to Hoop-Math.com, Patton hit eight of 15 three-point jumpers compared to 32.9 percent of his two-point jumpers.

On the other end, Patton has the length necessary to function as a high-caliber rim protector.

The real question, though, is if he can add enough muscle to his 215-pound frame in order to defend more physically imposing 5s. 

As Wasserman noted: "Patton needs a year in the Development League to build up his reps and body. He struggled with contact and got moved too easily under the boards. But his tools, mobility, bounce and scoring versatility form an enticing package."

Assuming he can bulk up to an encouraging degree and land with a team willing to be patient with his evolution, Patton could wind up being one of the gems of this year's draft class. 

 

For more news, rumors and related stories about Justin Patton, the NBA draft and the NBA, check out the NBA and NBA draft streams on Bleacher Report's app.