2022 NBA Draft Profiles: Patrick Baldwin Jr.

Over the next week, GBB will be profiling various players Memphis Grizzlies may be targeted in the 2022 draft. We’re mainly going to be looking at who they can choose with 22nd and 29th choices, or with a choice from a possible trade-up in the draft.

  • 6’9”, 230 pounds, 7’2” wingspan, 19 year old from Green Bay Wisconsin
  • Freshman Year at Milwaukee-Wisconsin: In 11 games (10 games started), 28.5 minutes per game, 12.1 points per game on 34.4% shots from the field (26.6% from threes, 74.3% from the line), 5.8 rebounds per game, 1.5 assists per game, 0.8 steals per game, 0.8 blocks per game, 2.1 turnovers
  • Awards and Honors: N/A
  • 3 Strength Stats (per Tankathon): Rebounds (7.3 per 36 minutes), Usage (28.3%), Fouls (1.9 per 36 minutes)
  • 3 stats to improve (per Tankathon): TS % (45.0), OFF RTG (89.3), Box +/- (-1.8)
  • Current Big Board Rankings: 24th (Tankathon), 39th (ESPN), 34th (The Ringer), 20th (CBS Sports), 16th (Bleacher Report), 20th (The Athletic)

In today’s NBA, the ability to find sources that can provide the advantageous combination of shooting/shot generation with size is all the rage. And for good reason, as the more sources shooter teams have, the easier it is for them to achieve offensive balance and consistency. When it comes to the 2022 NBA draft, few prospects offer a more intriguing mix of shooting and size than Patrick Baldwin Jr.

Of course, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. For years, Patrick Baldwin Jr. was considered one of the top picks in the class, including finishing fifth in the 2021 Top 100 draft class with some of the top names in that draft class. Without a doubt, Baldwin Jr. has carried the pedigree of a potential top 10 pick for years. Just a year ago, Baldwin Jr. seemed destined to be one of the first names to be dropped by the board in this draft.

Over the past year, however, reality has not supported past forecasts. For one, Baldwin Jr. chose to visit Wisconsin-Milwaukee to play for his father rather than other big time programs. Second, Baldwin Jr. suffered an ankle injury during his senior year of high school, which he re-injured during his freshman year. Not only did this limit Baldwin to only playing 11 games during his lone year in college, but it was also a factor in his struggles when he was actually on the court.

As a result, Baldwin Jr. is no longer considered a lottery pick. While there’s a good chance he’ll be selected in the first round, there are far more questions than answers surrounding Baldwin Jr. than many predicted a year ago. He presents one of the most interesting cases of pedigree vs. production in recent years when it comes to a potential draft pick.

areas of strength

When it comes to Baldwin Jr., his greatest strength is very easy to see. At 6’10’ with a seven foot wingspan, the smoothness with which Baldwin can generate a shot is quite impressive. When Baldwin is on rhythm, he has a unique ability to find his shot from almost anywhere due to his size, making it very difficult to change his shot.

Along with his natural physical assets, there is a clear belief in Baldwin Jr.’s approach. While at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he attempted 5.8 threes per game and also showed that range is a shooting threat that NBA-level teams may need to recognize across the court. While his accuracy and shot selection are certainly areas that need improvement, Baldwin Jr.’s potential as an NBA-cleared shooter as he matures is most intriguing.

For many of the same reasons, Baldwin Jr. is a compelling offensive player, but his defensive play also has potential. With his long arms, Baldwin Jr. displayed flashes on court as a shot blocker and defensive rebounder. While he may never be a true defensive player at the NBA level, Baldwin’s natural height and length gives NBA teams many natural skills to work with. Especially for a team like the Grizzlies, who have demonstrated the ability to bring players’ defensive potential into production, Baldwin Jr. has the potential to be a passable defenseman at times with work in an NBA program.

Overall, there’s no doubt what makes Baldwin Jr. attractive is his offensive potential. Especially with his confidence to hit hard shots when needed and the range he displays for a player his size, his game obviously has significant advantages as a next-level offensive player.

Areas for Improvement

Dave Kallmann / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.

If the lack of stats and numbers in areas of this piece’s strength was noticeable, that was the intent. Baldwin Jr. produced very little positive production while on the court during his first season. He only made 34.4% of his shots, including 26.6% of his 3s. To be fair, a lack of talent around Baldwin Jr. and his ankle injury likely contributed to his lack of production. However, Baldwin Jr. produced just 17 assists compared to 23 turnovers in 314 minutes of play. As teams tried to push Baldwin Jr., he opted to make low percentage shots rather than make better looks for teammates. This shows Baldwin Jr. has plenty of leeway when it comes to his decision making and his ability to add value on the court beyond his ability to shoot.

In defence, despite having some potential, simply because of his natural physical ability. There have been many instances of Baldwin Jr. making questionable efforts on the court in college. Given the difference Baldwin Jr.’s natural ability should make compared to the level of competition he played on defense, opposing players sometimes found success too easily. Baldwin Jr. was averaging nearly a steal and block per game, showing he can be disruptive when he’s trying hard. However, its lack of effort and inconsistency is certainly a concern. For Baldwin Jr. to become a player that NBA teams can rely on to stay on the court, he must avoid being a defensive liability that detracts from the value he produces offensively. At this point, he probably has a long way to go to have long-term confidence on an NBA court when it comes to his defense.

Another factor that could limit Baldwin Jr.’s ability to be a consistent three-point scorer in the NBA, and his overall ability as a defender, is his lack of athleticism. He doesn’t have an effective first step to get to the rim at this point in his career, nor does he have elite jumping skills (as seen above). Despite his high shooting potential, Baldwin Jr. appears to be more of a stationary talent than one who can move effectively. This will really limit his ability to create his own offense or his ability to be effective defensively against faster talent. In other words, the more Baldwin Jr. has to rely on others on both ends of the court to be effective, the less margin for error he has in order to become a relevant NBA talent. This is another indicator that the road from Baldwin Jr. to becoming a reliable NBA rotation member could be a long one that requires a lot of patience.

Finally, health is another factor that must be present for Baldwin Jr. The ankle injury he sustained two years in a row has slowed his development considerably and obviously made his long-term prospects more uncertain. Even if the teams determine that he is in perfect health, Baldwin Jr. must prove he can do the work necessary to maintain his health so he can fulfill the tremendous potential he still has.

Fit with the Grizzlies

NCAA Basketball: Wis.-Milwaukee in Florida

Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

A year ago, a prospect with Baldwin Jr.’s track record seemed like a highly unlikely target for what the Grizzlies value in a potential draft pick.

However, that perspective changed a bit when the Grizzlies moved in Ziaire Williams. Like Baldwin Jr., Williams was a highly touted high school recruit with an impressive pedigree who struggled to stay on the court and perform in his only year of college. However, once the Grizzlies really got to know the type of person and player Williams is, they found a talent that they believed could be very productive and develop quickly within their system. While many (including me) questioned the Grizzlies, who drafted Williams 10th in the 2021 draft, he showed plenty of development in his rookie year to once again prove Memphis is one of the best teams when it comes to drafting in the last few years.

As a result, the Grizzlies showed they are willing to give naturals a chance despite questionable production. Memphis will take the high risk/high reward path if they believe in the player’s talent and willingness to improve. From a talent standpoint, Baldwin Jr. possesses a combination of size/skill/shot up from a big wing that Memphis could certainly benefit from in the years to come. In terms of overall contributions, however, Baldwin Jr. doesn’t currently expect to be as clear a source of value in other areas outside of shooting as a player like Williams was last year. Also, Baldwin Jr. must prove to the teams that he can overcome questions about his ability to stay healthy and his level of defense.

In the end, the Grizzlies seem to have safer and more sane options than Baldwin Jr. with their first-round picks. However, the Grizzlies are in one of the best positions in the league to take a chance on a talent like Baldwin Jr. and make it pay off, how well they develop players. Also, the Grizzlies wouldn’t invest in Baldwin Jr. as much as some of their other young talents.

While I think it’s unlikely that Baldwin Jr. will be a Memphis pick on draft night, it’s hard to deny that he has some of the highest talent that will likely be available when Memphis comes on the clock on June 23rd stands.

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