Born into Chicago college hoops, Wizards’ Baldwin Jr. trying to survive in NBA

Washington Wizards forward Patrick Baldwin Jr. went to high school in Milwaukee, but felt perfectly at home playing March 16 at United Center.

Before moving to Milwaukee, Baldwin's father Pat, a former Northwestern point guard, spent seven years coaching at Loyola and four at NU.

Baldwin's mother, Shawn Karey, is a Lyons Township High School grad and former Northwestern volleyball player. So Baldwin Jr. basically grew up in Chicago. He worked as a ball boy at Northwestern games, played feeder basketball for Evanston and was planning to attend Loyola Academy before his father took the head job at Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“I say Milwaukee-Chicago,” Baldwin said when asked what he considers his hometown. “I think my grass roots are definitely here, spent 11, 12 years here, have a lot of family here. So Chicago's definitely my home, but Milwaukee kind of adopted me.”

Pat Baldwin Sr. was playing at Northwestern when the Bulls won their first three NBA titles, so Patrick is well-versed on the glory days.

“I tried to make it out to a lot of Bulls games,” he said. “From my time at Loyola and Northwestern, and watching Derrick Rose take the league by storm and hearing about Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen and all those guys I look up to. I just think it's the perfect city for a kid to fall in love with basketball.”

The Wizards are back in town and will face the Bulls for the second time this month on Monday. Baldwin Jr. took an unusual path to reach the NBA. Despite being a consensus Top-10 recruit in the country, he decided to pass on the national powers and play for his father at Milwaukee.

It didn't go great. Baldwin Jr. played in just 11 games due to injuries, the team finished 10-22 and his father was let go as head coach after the season. Pat Baldwin is now an assistant at Valparaiso, working under former Illini star Roger Powell.

There's plenty of “what could have been” to Baldwin Jr.'s brief college career.

“I think it was always the right choice,” he said. “I don't think at this point I can re-write history. But me and my father and everybody involved in that organization tried our hardest to make it work. It was unfortunate with the injuries and the way our season went and how it ended, but overall, I enjoyed my time with my father. That's really a decision I'll never get back and I'm always proud of.”

So Baldwin entered the 2022 NBA Draft and was chosen No. 28 overall by Golden State, which meant he got to spend his rookie season sharing a locker room with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and others from the Warriors dynasty years.

“I think Steph, Klay and Dray are better people than they are players and that's kind of tough for people to understand,” Baldwin Jr. said. “But Klay took me under his wing that year and was a very good vet. (Andre) Iguodala wasn't playing a whole lot that season, but was always in the young guys' ears, making sure we were locked in.”

After one season with the Warriors, Baldwin Jr. was traded with Jordan Poole to the Wizards. Now he's in a challenging spot where he needs to develop while getting limited playing time. He's averaged 3.4 points in 28 games For Washington this season.

At 6-9 with a nice shooting stroke, there figures to be a place for Baldwin Jr. in today's NBA. But the defense and physicality is a challenge for any player, let alone a 21-year-old trying to earn playing time.

“I think I'm just getting lost in the work, showing up every day with the same mindset that I would if I were playing 35-40 minutes,” he said. “I know my work ethic is on par with anybody in this league. Whatever those results yield me, I'll take.”

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

Washington Wizards forward Patrick Baldwin Jr.’s parents were athletes at Northwestern. Associated Press
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