SAN FRANCISCO — Patrick Baldwin Jr. was nervous Thursday night as he watched the names of other college basketball standouts’ names roll over the TV screen after being drafted to the NBA.
Despite his stock falling over the last year due to an injury, Baldwin didn’t have a doubt whether he would be selected in the 2022 NBA Draft; it was just a matter of when and to whom.
“The draft is long, and it’s longer when you’re waiting for your name to be called,” Baldwin recalled Friday afternoon.
Baldwin considered attending the draft in-person at Barclay Center in Brooklyn. But family has always been extremely important to the 19-year-old, who turned down numerous offers from college basketball powerhouses, like Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina, to play for his father who was the head coach at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. That’s why he decided to spend the biggest moment of his life back home in Wisconsin surrounded by those who’ve supported him up until this point of his career.
Around two hours and 45 minutes into the made-for-TV event, Baldwin’s wait was over. With the No. 28 overall pick, the Golden State Warriors picked Baldwin.
Finally, Baldwin saw his dream come to fruition.
“When my name was called, I definitely smiled, I definitely had an array of emotions,” he said. “I hugged my mom and my parents first and then went down the line… It was a really good night.”
The Warriors are taking a chance of Baldwin,
Being the son of a college basketball coach, Baldwin has been around the game his entire life. He has fond memories of putting up shots during halftime of Loyola University of Chicago basketball games, where his father, Patrick Baldwin Sr., served as an assistant coach from 2004 until 2011 before leaving for other opportunities.
Baldwin believes having a father as a coach gives him an advantage other players don’t have.
“When you’re 8, 9, breaking down film with your father, that definitely gives you an edge up and you learn things pretty quickly,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin was a top recruit out of Hamilton high school in Sussex, Wisconsin, and viewed as a potential future lottery pick. But his one college season didn’t go as planned.
Baldwin was predicted to tear up the Horizon League while playing for the Panthers. But his lone season was a flop. An ankle injury limited him to just 11 games, during which he averaged 12.1 points and 5.8 rebounds.
As a result, his draft stock plummeted.
“It is upsetting seeing people pass you up,” Baldwin said. “But at the same time, draft stock was never something that was a worry for me. I know at that point, the team that was going to pick me — which ended up being the Warriors — is going to be a huge believer in my talent and they’re going to get 100% from me ever since day.”
Baldwin’s health remains a concern for the Warriors. He said Friday that he wants to play in Summer League but his ankle is about “95% right now.”
“That last 5% is coming up close,” he said, “I believe I’m right there, right on the cusp, and just got to tune up some stuff and make sure I’m 100% going to Summer League.”
Friday was Baldwin’s second trip to the Bay Area. His first visit came about 48 hours prior when he met with the Warriors in a pre-draft evaluation.
“I might as well just stayed here,” he jokes now.
He and his family toured Chase Center with the Warriors other two picks, Toledo’s Ryan Rollins (No. 44) and Brazilian Basketball League star Gui Santos (No. 55), before the trio were officially introduced as the newest members of Golden State. Baldwin was enthralled to see his name between Andrew Wiggins and Stephen Curry’s locker.
Baldwin views the Warriors as a perfect fit for him, though he acknowledges it will take time for him to adjust to the pace and physicality of the NBA.
“I believe I’m a talented guy that still needs to experience winning and to be able to step in and be in between Curry and Andrew Wiggins and be able to have Draymond Green as a teammate…. that can take my talent and put it through the roof,” he said. “I’m just excited to come in here and learn, compete and fight for a spot.”
He’s a big fan of the mild San Francisco weather, too.
“I’m from the frozen tundra of Milwaukee, this is a step up,” he said.