Timberwolves rookie center Justin Patton played his first pro game tonight, debuting with a 15-point, 7-rebound, 4-blocked shot performance that started slowly and just kept getting better for the G League's Iowa Wolves.
The 16th player selected in last June's draft, he didn't play until Friday because of a broken bone in his foot sustained when he slipped on a court wet spot in late June and had surgery a few days later.
He played 16 minutes off the bench in a 104-98 victory over Utah's Salt Lake City team and went 5-for-9 from the field, 5-for-5 from the foul line and was a minus-15.
His debut brought out Timberwolves/Iowa Wolves owner Glen Taylor and Timberwolves/Lynx CEO Ethan Casson. Patton said he had about 20 friends and family members who made the trip to Des Moines from his hometown of Omaha about a two-hour drive away.
Here's some quotes gathered by the Strib's Joe Christensen, who's down in Des Moines working on a story. The photo here on the blog is by one of our best, Carlos Gonzalez.
From Iowa Wolves coach Scott Roth: "I’m a little shocked to be honest with how well he did. His first four or five minutes, you could see the timing and the rust, and I just figured that was going to continue maybe for another game or two because it’s been such a long layoff and with bigger guys it’s harder to get back into a flow. To have the line he had -- 16 minutes, 15 points and four blocks and really impressive. I think he’s got just a great future. If he continues to work, stay healthy, his size, his athletic ability and his love for the game, I think will shine through. This is just one little baby step for him. He has got a lot of work before he’ll go back.
"He’s going to be on that pace (16 to 20 minutes a game) for about 10 days or so, and we’ll see where he’s at. Once he gets re-evaluated and we see how his body’s going to react to playing, they’ll tell me and we’ll ramp it up. They’ll tell me to play him X amount of minutes and that’s what we’ll do."
From Patton himself: "It was good. Everyone was doing a good job of getting me acclimated to the game and that’s why we started off a little slow. I think it was just good to get everybody on the same page. You know, I haven’t played with these guys before and this was all the steps of being a great team, me helping them and them also helping me. We’ve all got a job to do, and I feel like today we did it and got the W."
When asked if he was rusty early on, he said, "Oh yeah, of course, I mean it was my first time playing basketball in a long time, so I would say there was a little rust there. But my teammates did a good job of helping get me involved and I got there and I feel like it was a good game."