Patrick Baldwin Jr. plans to stay in NBA draft: “I still think I’m as surefire as anyone in this class”

·10 min read

Patrick Baldwin Jr. entered this past college basketball season with high expectations as the No. 5 overall recruit in his class, per ESPN’s rankings. Following an injury-shortened freshman campaign, Baldwin Jr. is out to show why he’s still the highly touted prospect with upside many executives had their eye on to start the season.

In our latest HoopsHype aggregate mock draft, Baldwin Jr. projects as a late first-round pick, but he believes his stock will rise after he begins team workouts.

Baldwin Jr. told HoopsHype he plans on staying in the 2022 draft and has an upcoming workout with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Check out more from his conversation with HoopsHype, including why he played for his dad at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee instead of a traditional college powerhouse, player comparisons for his game, his long-term goals, and much more in our interview below.

What’s something that people don’t know about you off the court?

Baldwin Jr.: I love to get outdoors. I don’t think that’s something people typically know about me. Being in a gym for the amount of time I am and in a cold city in Milwaukee, when it finally does get warm, it’s nice to go for a bike ride. I don’t have any big hobbies. I collect trading cards. I buy them from Target and rip them open to see what I get. Other than that, it’s basketball.

You played college basketball for your dad after passing on Duke, Kentucky and UNC. Why did you make that choice, and what are your thoughts on it now?

Baldwin Jr.: I thought it would’ve been a situation where we both could have helped each other out a little bit. I thought I could’ve gone there and learned a ton of stuff from him in my one year under his wing, basically. I think had things gone to plan, and injuries factored into that, I thought we could’ve had a pretty good year. It had been 18 years in the works for me and my dad. The second I was born, he dreamt about this. As I became 16 and 17, I realized how special that opportunity would be. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I know for the one year I was in college, injuries aside, I think it was the right decision.

After being a fifth overall recruit and having this past season, would going to another school have made a difference?

Baldwin Jr.: I’m not too upset with how the season went. I think I definitely could’ve shot the ball better, and there are aspects I could’ve been better at. I believe that if you just look at the box score and try to judge me off this season, I think you’re missing a lot this year. Overall, I think I had good teammates and good coaches. I don’t know if it would’ve been any different had I not gone through any of the injuries. I’d like to think if I was healthy, this would’ve been a pretty successful year.

What’s the biggest misconception about your game?

Baldwin Jr.: I think one of the biggest misconceptions is you can watch the tape and see some shots I was taking this year. Maybe you can question my feel, but that’s something I’ve never been in doubt of. I typically have been a very good player at making the correct read and being a good passer. I think this year, my passing can go underrated a little bit.

When you look at your measurements at the combine over 6-foot-10, the nearly 7-foot-2 wingspan, what did you hope it shows in the eyes of executives?

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Baldwin Jr.: I think it shows I’m still growing. I was actually surprised when those numbers came out. Early in the year, I tested at about 6-foot-8.75 in shoes with a 6-foot-11 wingspan. Now, you jump ahead to the combine, and I’m about 6-foot-10.75 in shoes with a 7-foot-2 wingspan. I think my growth rate is still open. I think the measurements are a testament that I may still be growing.

Did anyone joke with you about the 23.5 standing vert and 26.5 max vert?

Baldwin Jr.: Yeah. Me and my father joked about that a ton. I’m not taking any of that personally, but at the same time, I do know that’s a part of my progression coming back from this past year and a half. It’s getting there, that step back. It’s not something I take lightly. I know I’m stepping into an environment where these are some of the best athletes in the world. It’s something I know I need to improve upon. I think this is a good base to move up with.

After getting feedback from the combine, do you plan on staying in the NBA Draft and forgoing your remaining college eligibility?

Baldwin Jr.: Yes, I do. I plan on staying in. I think the feedback I’ve been getting is pretty good. Typically, a lot of the teams haven’t even mentioned the testing as a factor for me. A lot of what I do is shooting, spacing the floor, making the correct play, and being a heady basketball player. That’s something I’ll bank on going into this process. I’ve gotten some pretty good feedback so far.

Why should an NBA team draft you?

Baldwin Jr.: I have the utmost confidence in myself and my abilities. I still think I’m one of those top guys in the class, and I think the circumstances I had to deal with this year were a little bit unique. I’m looking to go into workouts and show them what I look like when I’m healthy and fully able to go. I still have the most confidence in myself, and as long as I can step into an NBA environment and get those hours punched in and be able to compete with the top-level guys and improve every day, I think you’ll see me skyrocket from the point I’m at now.

Some people may consider you as a wild card in the draft. Do you agree with that?

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Baldwin Jr.: I can understand where that comes from this year. I still think I’m as surefire as anyone in this draft. I think I’m one of the smartest players in this class. I think I work extremely hard. There’s never a minute that goes by that I’m not thinking about basketball. Once I step into an NBA environment and I’m able to compete day-by-day and grow, I think I’ll be one of the guys that can be one of the top guys in this class when it’s all said and done.

Which NBA players would you compare your game to?

Baldwin Jr.: I think that was the cool thing about this year. I was able to dabble in a lot of different positions playing under my dad. There’s not particularly one guy that I take from, but when I am watching film, it’s heavy on Michael Porter, Kevin Durant and Jayson Tatum, heavy on the big wings that can pass, shoot and defend. It’s heavy on Cam Johnson and Mikal Bridges. Those wings that NBA teams are looking for right now.

What have you been doing to prepare for the draft with your agency, Priority Sports?

Baldwin Jr.: A big part of my pre-draft process is being healthy and staying healthy. It’s been something I’ve dealt with for a year-and-a-half. To finally be here in Chicago with these people I see every day has allowed me to pass many of the medical tests with flying colors. I think as long as I’m healthy, I think I can provide something to an NBA team. A big part of that is trying to regain that touch and feel that I missed this year. I think the cool thing about myself is that the baseline skills are there. It’s just about taking them through the roof and growing on those things.

Have you done any team workouts yet?

Baldwin Jr.: No workouts yet. I’m doing workouts this upcoming week. The first one on the docket is Oklahoma City, and then after that we’ll figure out the others.

What have been some interview questions from executives that have stuck out to you?

Baldwin Jr.: One of the cooler questions that took a long time to answer was, “Do you love to win, or do you hate to lose more?” I answered, “I love to win.” I guess it had been an ongoing debate between the guys in that room. I don’t know if that was a test of some sort. I had one team ask me, “What would you tell your hypothetical son growing up as a basketball player?” My answer was, “Develop guard skills and shooting touch.” The reasoning behind that was if he ends up growing up to be 6-foot-3, but his whole life, he’s been a big man, you’ve pretty much stunted his growth at a young age as a basketball player. If he’s in an Anthony Davis situation where grows up as a guard, hits a huge growth spurt, and he’s 6-foot-10, with those guard skills and jump shot, it makes him a special type of player.

Have you gotten an idea of where you think you could potentially go in the draft?

Baldwin Jr.: The range is still pretty wide, but the workouts should certainly dwindle down that window. We’re confident with the range. To me, I don’t think it matters how high I go. I know the team that’s going to take me is going to believe in me. That’s the whole thing I’m taking out of this process. All you need is one team to fall in love with you.

What do you want to accomplish by the time you hang up your sneakers?

Baldwin Jr.: There’s definitely a lot you want to accomplish. There are All-NBA selections, MVP, individual accolades. But I think if you look back at the careers of players, I think they’re most proud of the team accomplishments like the NBA championships. If you talk about the Warriors, you don’t talk about that 73-9 team. I want to be a contributing part to great teams. When I hang up my sneakers, I want to say I contributed to some all-time great teams.

Which players did you watch growing up and tried to emulate in your game?

Baldwin Jr.: Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony were probably the first three players I gravitated towards because I loved their footwork. I love the Mamba mentality. It was special. KD’s footwork is special at his size. Carmelo, when you put him in the mid-post, his footwork is special. I gravitate towards those guys because of the detail they put into their craft.

Where do you feel you are in terms of your development as a player, and what your ceiling could be one day?

Baldwin Jr.: I think, right now, I stack up with anybody. Down the road, I think there’s no limit. I know that’s a very open-ended answer, but I truly believe if I stay committed and watch film, learn from everyone, and work on my game day by day and get better, there’s no limit to the person and player I can become in this league and this world. I never want to put a limit on myself.

You can follow Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) on Twitter. 

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