With just two weeks to go until the beginning of NBA training camps, the offseason is nearly over. Players will begin returning back to their respective NBA cities and most seem excited to finally get back in the gym and play competitive, meaningful basketball again.
For Lamar Patterson, who spent his first NBA season splitting time playing with the Atlanta Hawks and in the D-League, the summer has been quite eventful. Shortly after the Las Vegas Summer League started in July, Patterson found out that the Hawks had waived him. The team had just agreed to deals with Kent Bazemore, Dwight Howard and Kris Humphries, so they had to clear Patterson’s contract off of the books to help make room for those players.
Being waived was obviously a down moment for Patterson. When players are waived, they begin to question their basketball abilities. They have to figure out what the next step in their career is and where they go from there. Patterson was no exception. He even remembered thinking that he wasn’t good enough.
His luck quickly turned around as the Sacramento Kings claimed him off of waivers just three days later. He’s now excited to join a Kings organization that is in a bit of a transition period with a new coaching staff coming in and several new players on the roster.
While he’s excited to join the Kings and to have another opportunity in the league, it was his time with the Hawks that helped mold him into the player he is today. The Hawks have made the playoffs in nine-straight seasons and have one of the most highly-regarded and knowledgeable head coaches in the league in Mike Budenholzer. Accordingly, Patterson was learning how to play at the NBA level from veteran players and one of the best coaches in the league.
“The biggest thing I learned from Coach Bud is professionalism and how to approach every game,” Patterson told Basketball Insiders. “In the NBA, there is really no days off; you have 82 games and practice in between and a lot of travel. Being a professional every single day and I feel like I learned that a lot from him. He used to give me some articles to read on certain players that he felt were similar to me to just show me that there are other guys that are going through it. I have nothing but love for Atlanta, Coach Bud and everyone there.”
Prior to joining the Hawks last season, Patterson played a season in Turkey. It seemed as though all of the odds were against him trying to make the Hawks’ roster. The team has a number of veterans on its roster and is constructed to win now. There weren’t that many roster spots to be had, but he fought his way through camp and the preseason to make the team. Although he appeared in just 35 games with the Hawks last season, he still remembers his ‘Welcome to the NBA’ moment.
“Our first preseason game I got matched up with LeBron,” Patterson said. “That was probably when it hit me the most. I’m like, ‘Dang, a couple of months ago I was in Turkey and the year before that I was in college.’ Just going through the whole season and seeing LeBron one night, Carmelo one night, James Harden the other night.
“You got all of these superstars that you have to guard and prepare for. After the first week or two, I was like, ‘Okay, this is normal.’ You can’t get caught up in stardom too much. Probably the only person that had me in stardom was Kobe Bryant because I grew up watching him and he was going through his farewell tour last season.”
One of the biggest things Patterson learned last season was how to handle himself as a professional. If it wasn’t from Budenholzer, it was from the other players on the team. To see other guys on the team that went from being a second-round pick like he was to being successful was something that he could relate to.
Patterson worked with players like Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap and Mike Muscala, each of whom were in similar positions and had to fight to where they are now. He picked up different things from those players and really found it beneficial to see the way they handled themselves and prepared for games.
Patterson has been working hard all summer long to continue improving his game. In fact, he was even working out during his vacation time over the summer as well. He said he would just jump on the treadmill and run sometimes during his time away from basketball.
Patterson shot 26 percent from three-point range last season in the D-League, so he’s really made improving his jump shot a point of emphasis this summer. He said that his shot has really taken a step forward and that he has has added more consistency. After putting in extensive work, Patterson says he is much more confident in his shot now and hopes to keep improving moving forward.
Now, Patterson and the rest of the Kings’ roster will be spending the days leading up to training camp by getting acclimated with each other. The Kings added a lot of new players to the roster, including Arron Afflalo, Matt Barnes and Garrett Temple among others. Several players have been in Sacramento working out together and running pick-up games.
Patterson will head into training camp with a lot to prove. The Kings currently have 14 guaranteed contracts on the roster, so Patterson will be battling for the last roster spot with Ty Lawson and Isaiah Cousins. He understands the importance of putting together a good showing at camp, but he won’t let that impact his mindset.
“[I’m] going in prepared and just doing simple things,” Patterson said. “I don’t have to go out there and try to force the issue because that’s not my game, that’s not what I do. I just go out there and take what’s given. Just being able to have that mindset and just work and control what I can control and that’s your work ethic and attitude.
“Just going into camp I’m really excited by the past few weeks I’ve been in Sacramento with the guys and the way the ball has been flowing. I feel like the opportunity is definitely going to be there and it’s just up to me to take advantage.”
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