Atlanta Hawks: Opportunity Continues To Knock For Lamar Patterson

Feb 1, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson (8) applies pressure to Atlanta Hawks guard Lamar Patterson (13) during the second half at American Airlines Arena. The Heat won 116-93. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 1, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson (8) applies pressure to Atlanta Hawks guard Lamar Patterson (13) during the second half at American Airlines Arena. The Heat won 116-93. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

Now playing on a second 10-day contract, Lamar Patterson is fighting to stick with the Atlanta Hawks this time around.

The NBA can feel very inhospitable for those who ply their trade on the periphery of the world’s premier basketball league. Lamar Patterson of the Atlanta Hawks likely has a better understanding of that than most at this point.

Patterson was drafted with the 48th overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft. The pick originally belonged to the Milwaukee Bucks, but a draft night trade ensured that Patterson began his NBA journey with the Atlanta Hawks. In the time since, it has taken many twists and turns.

Having gone through Summer League with Atlanta’s Las Vegas entry that summer, Patterson then wound up in Turkey playing for Tofas Bursa.

While the former Pittsburgh Panther got his first taste of professional basketball on the other side of the world, his play was closely monitored by the Hawks.

Related Story: 25 Best Players to Play for the Atlanta Hawks

That meant it was no real surprise when Atlanta officially signed Patterson and gave him his opportunity the following season. In spite of multiple trips to the D-League, Patterson did manage to play 35 times for the Hawks.

Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks /

Atlanta Hawks

Generally solid contributions at the back of the rotation certainly wouldn’t have been helped by his poor shooting numbers (35 percent from the field and 24.5 percent from deep), and in the end that inefficiency likely played into Atlanta’s decision to waive him.

The 25-year-old was then picked up by the Sacramento Kings, only to be waived four games into the team’s preseason schedule. Not all ties were cut between Patterson and the Kings, though, as he joined up with the Reno Big Horns, the team’s D-League affiliate.

In many ways, that move may ultimately prove to be one of the best things that could have happened to Patterson.

With the Big Horns, Patterson got the kind of consistent and stable opportunity that he hadn’t been afforded at many previous junctures of his somewhat nomadic first three years as a pro.

In 28 games with Reno, the Lancaster, Pa., native averaged 24.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists on greatly improved shooting percentages of 43.1 percent from deep and 33.9 percent from deep.

Clearly believers in Patterson’s potential, this was enough to convince the Hawks to take another look at the young wing.

Having traded Kyle Korver and experimenting with D-League spells for Taurean Prince and DeAndre Bembry throughout the season, a nagging injury to Thabo Sefolosha left the Hawks in need of wing cover and who better to turn to than someone who already knows the ins and outs of the organization and the coach’s preferred system?

Upon signing Patterson to a 10-day contract, Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer was vocal about the benefits of the player’s familiarity with the team. He also noted Patterson’s apparent improvement from his time in Reno.

"“He is obviously somebody who knows our stuff. He’s shown an ability to be a point guard and a wing. He’s been playing well in the D-League. He is a unique, special passer. I think he’s been working on his shot. His body looks a little better.”"

From the outside, that makes Patterson sound like little more than a perfect fit to temporarily paper over a crack in Atlanta’s depth chart, but from the player’s perspective it remains a chance to prove his worth.

Having been through this process before, Patterson knows not to take anything for granted. If his comments to Craig Meyer of the Pittsburg Post Gazette are anything to go by, Patterson has instead decided to take a longer-term view of proving his worth.

Speaking of what he can reasonably look to gain from such a short term deal, Patterson said:

"“Just more experience. That’s all you can get, whether it’s on the court, off the court, being around the league and the staff. You gain experience and gain relationships. Hopefully it leads to something down the road. Hopefully it’s here, but basketball’s all over the place. Only a select few guys stay in one place forever.”"

What Patterson does know for sure is that the Hawks believe he has some potential.

More from Hoops Habit

That was echoed when the team signed him to a second 10-day contract on Tuesday, and even if he doesn’t manage to earn a more permanent spot out of that deal, he has another opportunity to keep his name at the forefront of the team’s mind.

With a D-League franchise on the horizon for Atlanta, there will soon be even more opportunities than ever before for the Hawks to involve players who would otherwise be on the periphery or outside of their plans.

In his three appearances so far this season, Patterson has struggled in limited minutes, averaging 2.0 points and 1.3 rebounds on only 25 percent shooting from the field.

His attitude and system fit have been priority all along for Atlanta, though, and Mike Budenholzer’s comments upon the signing of the second 10-day indicate that there may be cause for optimism for Patterson.

"“There is a level of comfort in knowing Lamar. His body is in a good place. He is taking care of himself, taking his conditioning and his fitness to another level. I think he’s a very gifted passer, a very gifted decision maker.The feedback from his teammates, feedback from the assistant coaches and drills, 3-on-3’s and 4-on-4’s, we are very happy with him.”"

Next: 25 Greatest Scorers of All-Time

An important few days lie ahead for Patterson, and if he can continue to fit in, his work off the court may even help some of his on-court struggles to be overlooked.