When discussing the Jimmy Butler trade, there is a forgotten man. Justin Patton is a former first round pick who has legitimate NBA size and an impressive scouting report. He was the #16 selection in 2017 by Chicago before being packaged with Jimmy Butler in trades, first to Minnesota and next to Philadelphia. Patton has been sidelined for virtually his entire NBA career by foot injuries but appears to be well on his way to returning to the Sixers this season. 

The Upside

A legit seven-footer … Has good agility and lateral quickness … Plus athlete for a player his size … Explosive off of the ground … Quick leaper, second jump was faster than others’ first in college … Can be a distraction at and around the rim defensively … Played well vertically in the interior … Also will be able to pluck away steals occasionally … Can switch out and defend guards on the perimeter.


When you think about the sorts of skillsets lacking in the Sixers, things like wing depth and perimeter defense on ball are near the top of the list. But it could be argued that rim defense behind Joel Embiid is another crucial deficiency that creates problems for the Sixers consistency and continuity within games. Patton’s size and athleticism could be a boon to a team that needs help inside. 

Justin Patton’s Path

Patton played just one season at Creighton, averaging 1.4 blocks in just 25 minutes per game. Offensively, he scored 13 points with 6 rebounds. His per 40 min averages of 21/9 show some promise for the developing Sixers big man.

Having had the beginning of his career derailed by injury must be frustrating, but according to Patton himself, he may be on his way back shortly. He is not traveling with the team currently because he prefers the routine of working with the Sixers training staff in Camden. 


Justin has been an increasing presence in the Sixers locker room lately. He is out of the walking boot that he wore for the introductory press conference after the trade with Minnesota.

So signs are pointing toward a return and Patton himself is optimistic. “I’m working with the trainers and began jumping recently,” Patton said Monday. It’s important to note that officially Patton remains listed as “OUT” on the Sixers injury report with foot surgery.

When considering foot injuries and big men, cautious optimism is warranted. Patton is in the final year of his rookie scale contract, making $2.67 million this year. He will look to earn minutes in the NBA in time to make an impression on NBA front offices over the summer.