Pistons look at rising Creighton big man Patton

Rod Beard, The Detroit News

Auburn Hills — Things are looking up for Justin Patton.

Patton’s name is on the rise in some NBA mock drafts, which have him firmly in the first round and possibly in the top half.

It’s been a precipitous jump for Patton, a 6-foot-11 big man who played just one year at Creighton before opting to enter the draft. He worked out on Thursday for the Pistons, who have the No. 12 pick in the draft next Thursday.

He’s not projected to go that high in most of the mock drafts, but if the Pistons see enough that they like in his workout, they could put him higher on their draft board and take him there.

There’s plenty to like about Patton, who was the Big East freshman of the year and was second-team all-conference. He was second in the nation in field-goal percentage (68 percent), which is impressive for a big man.

Another big prospect went head-to-head with Patton as well: Texas’ Jarrett Allen. Most of the first-round prospects who have worked out for the Pistons have been centers or stretch forwards, which could signal where their intentions are with the pick. Patton tried to make an impression with his play to differentiate himself.

“I shoot high-percentage shots; if there’s a hand in front of you or if somebody blocks it, it’s probably not a good shot,” Patton said. “I try to avoid those situations and just shoot shots that are within the offense — and most of the time, I make them.”

Patton showed some impressive range in hitting 8 of 15 shots from beyond the college 3-point arc, a versatile skill set that always interests NBA teams.

And he’s not done growing, either.

Patton has a 7-foot-3 wingspan and 9-foot-4 standing reach, most of which he gets from his father, who is 7-3, 360 pounds. It was apparent early in high school that he was going to inherit some of that size — and it came quickly.

“From freshman to sophomore year, I grew from 6-1 to 6-9,” he said. “It’s from sleeping a lot.”

And it doesn’t stop there: Patton has a twin brother, Kendall, who is 6-7 and a sister, Raven who, at nine years old, already is taller than their mother, who is 5-3.

For Allen, who also left after his freshman season, it’s a conscious competition between him and Patton, who both are projected first-round selections and teams could be comparing them to determine which to pick.

Thursday’s was the eighth workout for Allen, also 6-11, who will work out for Miami and Portland before the draft.

“Everybody physically has their own differences; to stand out in the draft, you have to differentiate yourself, so that’s what I tried to do,” said Allen, who posted 13.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and shot 57 percent from the field for the Longhorns. “I just try to show that I’m more athletic than all the other bigs in the draft class — guarding guards, blocking shots and all the intangibles.”

Allen is drawing some comparisons and looking to follow the same path as another Texas center, the Indiana Pacers’ Myles Turner. That’s a compliment for Allen, but he’s looking to carve his own niche.

“Myles Turner had an amazing two seasons and has a lot ahead of him. He got drafted 11th so people with a young big don’t know what they’re getting at first,” Allen said. “There’s a lot more we can show. It can go good or bad for everybody.”

It’s still unclear where the Pistons will go in the draft. There’s a potential opening for the third center if Aron Baynes decides to use his player option and become a free agent. Both Patton and Allen could fit the bill as potential pick-and-roll bigs, similar to starting center Andre Drummond.