After battling through injuries during the 2021-22 season to play just 11 games, former five-star and top-10 prospect Patrick Baldwin Jr. declared for this year’s NBA Draft having averaged 12.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 1.5 APG as a freshman.
Son of the previous Milwaukee head coach Patrick Baldwin Sr., Baldwin Jr. had offers from some of the top national programs in Duke, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, and more out of high school but choose to join his father in the Horizon League. A decision that ultimately received scrutiny as Milwaukee struggled alongside Baldwin Jr. in his limited appearances shooting just 27% from three and 34% from the field before Baldwin Sr. was fired to end a 10-22 season.
But in spite of all the adversity Baldwin Jr. and his family have faced, he’s reportedly impressed scouts enough with his elite size and shooting ability to earn some high second-round to late first-round grades.
While his draft stock won’t reach the heights it once saw when he was an incoming recruit, Baldwin Jr. has done an excellent job of building himself back up after a difficult one-and-done season and could be a truly excellent long-term project for any team willing to let him heal and develop the skills that once made him a cant-miss prospect.
Height: 6 feet, 9 inches
Weight: 220 pounds
Wingspan: 7 feet, 1.75 inches
Baldwin Jr.’s measurables are off the charts, he’s got an NBA frame and a massive wingspan to with it all of which he was able to showcase at the NBA combine. Even as a 6-foot-9 forward, Baldwin Jr. is a versatile scorer capable of battling down low and hitting three-point jumpers with as smooth a jump shot as anyone but scouts have unfortunately only seen this side at the high school level.
He entered college featuring a reputation as a knockdown shooter with the ability to rack up the points which is best showcased by a 26-point performance for Milwaukee in a win over Robert Morris where Baldwin Jr. shot 65% from the field and went 6-for-6 on 3-point attempts. But without much to go on surrounding Baldwin Jr.’s abilities, the question becomes - as SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell discusses - is the high school sample size of elite scoring and shooting more indicative of Baldwin Jr.’s true talents or is his 11-game college career in which he struggled against mid-major opposition his true ceiling?
Areas to improve:
Durability, athleticism, and defense
I think the one major statistic that everyone’s seen from Baldwin Jr.’s combine showing was his 26.5-inch max vertical leap which is marked as one of the worst in combine history but he also tested poorly in the three-quarter sprint and lane agility in which he ranked within the bottom-5. No doubt a lot of this lost athleticism is a result of his severe left ankle injury which he reaggravated during his freshman season but the combine is not the end all be all and when healthy Baldwin Jr. will have the chance to rebuild and work on these issues.
But with that loss of athleticism and explosiveness, Baldwin Jr.’s defensive skill has suffered with many arguing that he’ll have a tough time matching up against physical wings or penetration dribblers should these issues persist. However, even in high school Baldwin Jr. was never viewed as a top-tier defensive player outside of his solid shot-blocking ability given his massive size. He’ll need to prove to NBA coaches that he’s not a lagging or lazy defender like his game film might suggest and that he can manage the athleticism and quickness of the professional ranks.
Projected draft range: late first round - early second round
While there is definitely a lot of question marks surrounding Baldwin Jr.’s game at the moment, he has the intangibles and ability for some team to see him as worthy of taking a chance on. Ideally, he needs a system that’s okay with giving him the time to heal and properly develop instead of one that’ll expect the former 5-star prospect to produce right away. But if Baldwin Jr. ends up in the right situation he has the positional size and a strong pedigree of offensive prowess to be a major role player in the NBA a few years down the line.