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Sounds of Thunder: Oklahoma City Thunder, Meet Patrick Patterson

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From the hills of West Virginia to the plains of Oklahoma, who is this guy they call 2Pat?

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Who is Patrick Patterson? Other than being known as a ‘spread-four’ with solid defensive chops and playing for the Toronto Raptors over the past few seasons I don’t know much, but according to many sports publications his signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder for their full tax payer mid-level exception was one of the best deals of the summer.

So I decided it was time to find out more about the Thunder’s biggest free-agent signing to date.

Where He Is From?

Born in Washington, D.C., Patterson grew up in Huntington, WV, the second largest city in West Virginia and the home of Marshall University. With a population of just under 50,000 people, Huntington is about the same size as Stillwater, OK, and shares many of the same characteristics such as a diverse cultural history. A trait shared by many college towns.

Patterson attended Huntington High School and graduated in 2007. The school, established in 1996 after the consolidation of old Huntington and East Huntington High Schools boasts six state championships in basketball. Patterson led the school to its first three in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

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A McDonald’s All-American, Rivals.com listed 2Pat as the #3 power forward and 17th ranked national player in 2007. After originally committing to Kentucky, Patterson re-opened his recruiting when coach Tubby Smith left for Minnesota —and it touched off a whirlwind recruiting battle between the Wildcats, Duke, and Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators.

In the end, Patterson stayed with with new coach Billy Gillespie and Kentucky citing distance from home as one his primary reasons:

"Well, as I said it was almost a dead heat between Kentucky and Florida. But, it was distance that separated Kentucky in the end. Kentucky has the tradition, Florida the two national titles, both schools have great coaches. But, I just couldn't see my family moving thirteen hours away to see me play.

As far as Duke was concerned, I really liked Coach K, but I didn't click with a couple guys on the team. That was the difference maker for them and put them in the third spot."

Ironically, ten years later, after three years of Kentucky and seven seasons with three NBA teams, Patterson chose Billy Donovan when he got a second shot.

‘2Pat’ and Billy the Kid

Opting to stay in school to finish his degree, Patterson entered the 2010 NBA Draft after three successful seasons at Kentucky and was selected #14 by the Houston Rockets. Two-and-a-half years into his NBA career, Pat was traded to the Sacramento Kings in February of 2013. The Kings then traded him to the Toronto Raptors in December, 2013 —where he has played through the end of the 2016/17 season.

Throughout his NBA career, Patterson has established himself as a hard-nosed, defensive-minded glue guy that can shoot. Armed with decent size and a 36.8% 3-point stroke, it’s somewhat surprising to see he averages less than four outside shot attempts per game. However, that number should serve him well on a Thunder roster that includes Russell Westbrook and Paul George.

While spectacular has rarely been associated with Patterson’s play, consistency and versatility has, until the 2017 playoffs when he went from owning the 3rd highest regular season net-rating (10.9) among reserves, to a -16.1 in the post-season.

According to Raptor HQ’s Matt Teague, confidence was the primary culprit for Patterson’s disappointing play-off run:

As Patterson’s confidence waned, so too did his performance. The once productive and collected forward slowly turned into a reluctant deer in headlights, passing up shots like they were the plague and wanting nothing to do with the basketball. It got so bad that at times it literally looked like a game of hot potato. Patterson looked scrambled, disoriented and he along with his brick brother in DeMarre Carroll began to remind me of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker trying to dispose of a bomb in Rush Hour Two.

A major letdown in the post-season is any free-agents’ worst financial nightmare, just ask Andre Roberson. But even with his bad showing in the playoffs, Patterson was still expected to attract an $11M+/yr deal. The Thunder signed 2Pat for just under half that.

When NewsOK beat writer Brett Dawson asked Patterson why he accepted the Thunder’s offer he said:

“to be with a team that’s just as hungry as I am.”

Patrick also told Dawson he wanted to win and he wanted play for Donovan.

That Tweet from Hoopshype shows two things. A player that brings a lot, but also a player whose development has plateaued.

It’s just my opinion, but I get a sense that Patrick Patterson came to OKC looking for a sort of do-over and was willing to leave money on the table to get it.

We Are Marshall

Do not underestimate the Huntington connection that Patterson and Donovan share. As mentioned, Huntington is home to Marshall University, the school Donovan kicked off his head coaching career with in 1994.

It is highly unlikely that Patterson remembers Donovan’s tenure at Marshall. Primarily because he was only five-years-old at the time. Yet, after the tragic plane crash that took the lives of 75 Marshall football players, coaches, and supporters in November, 1970, Marshall holds a very special place in the heart of anyone from Huntington.

Patterson is a self-proclaimed movie buff and in December of 2006, during his senior season at Huntington High School, Warner Brothers released what had to be an incredibly powerful film for any Huntington resident called, We Are Marshall.

The movie starred Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox and told the story of the aftermath of that horrific 1970 plane crash that occurred within a few miles of home.

The crash had lasting effects not only for the city of Huntington, but for college football in general. Freshman are able to play today as a result of that crash because nothing was left behind. No one survived, and in order for Marshall to field a team the following season it was necessary to petition the NCAA to change the rule that forbade freshman from competing on the varsity squad.

Perhaps his time at Marshall explains why Donovan can so strongly relate with Oklahomans’ feelings about the Murrah Building bombing. I have little doubt it influenced Donovan’s theories on levels of commitment, so I can imagine what kind of impact a former Marshall coach with two national championships on his resume had on a kid from Huntington.

Evidently, it still does and what better place than Chesapeake Energy Arena to provide a perfect college-like atmosphere for Patterson to take a step back, rekindle his passion, and add to what he has already learned these past ten years. Patrick seems to think so, in fact, he’s betting over $15M over the next three years it will.

apropos of nothing but...

Huntington, WV is home to the Thundering Herd of Marshall University....

...is it just me, or is there something strangely familiar about that logo?