• Wolves’ first round draft pick Justin Patton had offseason foot surgery and has been inactive in every game so far this season.

    Today the Wolves announced Patton has been assigned to the Iowa Wolves, the team’s G-League affiliate.

    Patton is not expected to play tonight in Iowa’s home game, which airs live on Facebook today at 4:00 pm, but he should begin practicing with the team and could see game action by next weekend if things go smooth for him.

    Given the Wolves’ expectations coming into this season and his injury, Patton has become sort of an afterthought sitting on the end of the bench dressed in a suit for a quarter of the season, but this news is exciting for Wolves’ fans.

    Representing the team’s biggest “project”, the Wolves are going to be very patient with Patton. They don’t need him to contribute now. With a healthy roster the Wolves have five big men ahead of him. Barring catastrophic circumstances Patton probably won’t see the court at the NBA level this season.

    They will instead be content to work him slowly back to health and develop him in Iowa. He’s a talented but raw player, only playing one season at Creighton before declaring for the draft.

    Patton projects to develop into a two-way player that can fit in the modern NBA mold of bigs. He’s long, 7’0″ with a 7’2″ wingspan, and athletic though remains on the lighter side at 230 pounds. He relies on rim-running for his offense at the moment, but is comfortable on the block with both hands.

    He’s said to have a good jump shot out to the 3-point line based on percentages, but the sample size there was only 15 attempts. His 51.7 percent free throw percentage indicates his shot needs work, but the willingness to take outside shots is a good sign.

    He’s comfortable putting the ball on the floor and operating on the perimeter, so if he’s able to develop a consistent jump shot, he could become a terrific fit into any type of offense.

    Any young big man will be a work in progress defensively, but Patton has the tools to defend pick-and-rolls on the perimeter and as a rim protector down low. He may always struggle with physical centers though.

    It is too soon to pencil him into any future plans, but the projections like him as a solid second big man that chips in across the board. At the very least he seems to be a solid bet to come off the bench and rim-run for a few minutes a game and provide some good energy. He also looks to be a solid fit next to Towns.

    Once he begins to play in Iowa the biggest things to look out for will be his rebounding numbers and his perimeter shooting. If he’s able to round those out this season, he could crack rotation minutes for the Wolves by next year.

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