What Patrick Baldwin Jr. brings to the Golden State Warriors

On September 21, 2021, a five-star freshman for the Milwaukee Panthers men’s basketball team threw out a ceremonial first pitch during a Brewers game.

Almost everything in this sentence is extremely strange, but Patrick Baldwin Jr. wanted to normalize this event as much as he could. He confirmed the distance from the throwing rubber to the plate – 60 feet, six inches – and estimated it to be about the same as a volleyball line to the baseline on the court training for his team. So Baldwin began rehearsals there with his father and head coach, Pat Sr. The duo then found a mound for more dry runs. An exhaustive and exhausting process, it was not. Probably less than an hour of work, in total.

But it was about as in-depth as it gets for someone who was going to be on the dirt at American Family Field for a minute or two. “It’s something that I know took me and my dad a long time,” Baldwin recalled weeks later during a conversation in a study hall at a college center. “‘Cause if you haven’t noticed, we’re perfectionists.”

At the risk of being overly and cruelly flippant, this was one of the few parts of Patrick Baldwin’s Milwaukee experience that went as planned. He played 11 games. He made 45 shots, in total, all year. His father lost his job after a 22-game losing season. Baldwin has essentially gone from the fascinating 6-10 prospect with the pristine shot and lottery pedigree to perhaps the most enigmatic entity in the 2022 NBA Draft pool. Is the upside still the upside? Did something irrevocably go wrong during his last two injury-plagued high school and college basketball seasons? Is Patrick Baldwin Jr.’s potential win still worth the bet?

Well, NBA champion Golden State Warriors decided to find out. They knocked Baldwin off the board with the 28th pick, in what isn’t so much an all-in move as a calculated bet. It’s worth remembering that Baldwin was the consensus top 10 recruit nationally as a high school student, that programs such as Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, and North Carolina all sued his services at one point or another – and none of these programs need to achieve talent. . He was the kid who stood closer to midfield than the 3-point line before a Milwaukee practice last fall and took jumper after jumper after jumper. There are Something the.

How much remains to be determined.

Ideally? Baldwin is a kind of Michael Porter Jr. redux, minus the lingering injury issues: a seemingly inescapable kid who all but disappeared off the face of the planet in college, but became a productive pro when his health wasn’t. not a problem. (Which, of course, still is for Porter. But in the best-case scenario, Baldwin heals and puts it behind him.) In this context, there is effectively nothing to be gained by analyzing the numbers of his only college season: 12.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, 34.4% total shooting, 26.6% accuracy from 3 points. The generous assessment is that Baldwin was bumped, and when he wasn’t, he was taking hard hits on a bad team without many other reliable options; he took 43 jumpers all year, and only seven of them were unsupervised stares, per Synergy Sports.

The risk, on the other hand, is obvious. The risk is that 2021-22 was more heralding than aberrant. “As general manager, I just don’t know if there’s enough to get excited about,” said a college coach who scouted Baldwin in Milwaukee and was granted anonymity for an honest assessment of what he saw. “It’s like, ‘OK, I can see it there… but I don’t see it there.’ But (the NBA) is a different game and a different league, obviously. The issues I saw on film were the constant jump shot and then the lateral movement on defense. Those were the things that jumped. But hey kid. He works hard. And just hampered by a few bad luck injuries.

As he spoke of the thought process that brought him to Milwaukee last fall, Baldwin lumped it all together — playing for his dad, playing close to home, helping the program reach heights he never had. not achieved for decades – in a single concept. “It’s a matter of opportunity,” he said then.

Here’s the one undeniable thing about Patrick Baldwin Jr.: All this strangeness and disappointment are behind him. His time with the Warriors may not be precisely the opportunity he dreamed of…but it is an opportunity for a fresh start nonetheless. What he does with it will be fascinating to watch.

(Photo: Alan Youngblood/Associated Press)

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