Justin Patton was the “other” player acquired by the Timberwolves in the Jimmy Butler draft night blockbuster, and the No. 16 overall pick from Creighton is the only 2017 draft choice on the Wolves’ roster. Shortly after signing with the Wolves, Patton broke a bone in his foot, and the 7-footer has been rehabbing ever since — a process that still is ongoing as the rest of his teammates begin training camp. Patton chatted on Friday with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand.
Q We haven’t seen you since you signed, and right after that you had the foot injury. What exactly happened with the injury and how frustrating was it to get hurt right away?
A Well I was working out, and I just slipped on some water. It happens, it’s basketball. But I’m getting over it now, and it will just be good to get out there and play soon.
Q Where are you with your recovery?
A I’m getting to the last stages of rehab, and then I’ll be able to get back on the court very soon. Right now I’m just staying the course and trying to win each day. ... Actually, I feel like this is kind of a blessing. I’ve been able to get a lot stronger with my upper body, which a lot of people know I need. I’ve seen a lot of good changes. It’s going to be good to actually have some muscle this time around.
Q You had a redshirt year in college at Creighton. Does that prepare you for a year like this when you do have to be patient?
A Yeah, it does. Coach [Tom Thibodeau] knows it takes time, and I know it takes time. In my redshirt year I put in the work to get better, and I’m going to do the same thing here.
Q The franchise added a team in the G League [formerly the Development League] in Iowa. Is that something you imagine you might be a part of quite a bit when you’re healthy?
A It would be a great experience. I know I’m not going to be someone who’s playing every minute of every game, so it’s always good to log minutes and play basketball — whether it’s in Minnesota or Iowa.
Q How many teammates have you met so far, and what do you think of the culture on this team?
A I’ve gotten to hang out with most of the guys already. They’re a great group, very selfless and humble. They set an example for me.
Q At your introductory news conference you talked about how your mom always played Prince music when she was cleaning. Do you still listen to him now that you’re in Minnesota?
A It’s good music, but when I hear it sometimes it makes me think that someone is cleaning up. My mom is telling me I have to lift up my feet, the vacuum is coming under me. There are some good memories and bad memories with that.
Q You were also asked about selling funnel cakes at the College World Series in Omaha while you were at Creighton, and you remarked that we shouldn’t forget about nachos because they were important. What is important about nachos?
A Well, it’s the Batter’s Box nachos. There are three kinds of nachos on one big tray. You have the barbecue ones, the regular ones and the chicken ones. And when you sell them you have to yell out, “Batter’s Box nachos!” and everyone just goes crazy. … The barbecue is the best of the three. They throw you off a little bit.