Updated: 2:53 p.m.
The "other guy" in the Jimmy Butler trade returned to the court Tuesday.
Justin Patton, the 7-foot center the Sixers acquired along with Butler in a blockbuster trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, played 13 first-half minutes in the Delaware Blue Coats' 119-108 loss to the Austin Spurs. He posted eight points on 4 for 10 shooting, three rebounds and three assists.
Patton suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot in September while with the Timberwolves. The No. 16 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft out of Creighton, Patton suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot the summer after being drafted. He played one game for the Timberwolves and 38 games for their G-League affiliate, the Iowa Wolves, averaging 12.7 points and 5.7 rebounds.
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As you'd expect, Patton was rusty in his first action of the season. The Spurs' DeJuan Blair blew by him for a series of easy baskets in his first stint. In general, Patton wasn't especially sharp defensively.
Yet there were a number of positive signs. Patton seemed to move fluidly and his jumper looked smooth. He knocked down his first shot, a jumper from the left elbow, and drained a long two in the second quarter.
If Patton returns to the Sixers, he provides another athletic, versatile backup center option, albeit a raw one who has yet to prove himself in the NBA.
"I'd say I'm a multi-dimensional player," Patton said in an interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia in December. "I don't rely on just one thing. I've fine-tuned a lot of things in my game that are going to make the game easier for me, such as my jump shot and my dribbling. But when you have an IQ like mine, it's not going to be hard to adapt and get better with any situation."
It might be difficult for Patton to supplant Jonah Bolden, who has earned regular minutes over the past month behind Joel Embiid. As Thursday's trade deadline approaches, it's also possible Patton could be involved in a trade - his return to the court certainly boosts his value. Patton is an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Back in December, Patton said he was excited about the prospect of playing in front of Sixers fans.
I come from an environment where it's pretty tough also. I'm not really afraid of that. It's going to be fun to play in front of [the fans.] It's going to be fun on the good days and the bad days. I'm just ready to get the bad days out of the way and hopefully have a lot of good days.
Zhaire Smith, who suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot and then endured a series of serious medical complications stemming from an allergic reaction, has been practicing with the Blue Coats. General manager Elton Brand said in December he expects Smith to return this season.
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