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Q&A on Houston Rockets forward Patrick Patterson

I had planned to interview the lead blogger covering the college team of whomever the Houston Rockets came away with on Thursday night.  Little did I know that I would already have his contact information.

Once more, I got together with Glenn Logan of A Sea of Blue, SB Nation’s official Kentucky Wildcats blog, this time, to discuss forward Patrick Patterson.

Rahat: So to start, can you tell us Patrick’s strengths and weaknesses?

Glenn:

Strengths:

From an NBA perspective, Patterson’s strengths are his body, which is mature and NBA-ready.  He has good but not freakish athleticism, very good hands, long arms, an improving handle, good physical strength and a very high basketball IQ.  He is all about the team, and he and Chuck Hayes will set an unbelievable example attitude-wise.  Patterson has a good motor and hates to lose.

Patrick can pass in the post, he can get rebounds and guard people bigger than him.  He has good footwork and seems pretty durable.  He is as coachable as any young man you will ever find, and has the best attitude of any player I have ever had the pleasure to experience.  All you need to know about his work ethic is that he graduated from college in three years, and even though he is intelligent, he is not that smart.  That was all due to determination, planning, and execution.

Patterson can score inside and out to 20 feet, rebound, and guard his position.  He is better the closer to the basket he gets, but he has a nice touch and can shoot it fairly reliably from the college 3-point line.

Weaknesses:

Patrick’s perimeter shot is good, but not quite NBA-ready.  He is not as strong a finisher at the rim as I would like, particularly over size.  Patrick has a tendency to defer too much, and he hasn’t quite figured out when to assert himself and when to defer to others.  He also needs to improve his rebounding as far as consistency is concerned — he would have a 10-rebound game and follow that up with a 3-rebound game.  Patrick needs to learn to bring the rebounding every game.  Patterson also needs to learn how to guard smaller players.

Patterson needs to improve his ball handling to be a combo forward in the NBA.  His handle isn’t bad for college, but it needs to improve quite a bit before it will be NBA-ready, particularly his left hand.  Pat also has to learn to go to his left, which he almost never did in college.  Patterson was a great free throw shooter in his sophomore year, but not so much in his junior year.  That inconsistency needs some attention.  His shot release is a touch flat and a bit too much off the index finger, which puts him off line more than he should be.  He will have to learn the pick-and-roll, as that was not a big part of his college experience, but he should be good, especially as a screener.

Patterson is not a good shooter off the dribble, nor can he get his own shot yet.  Once he develops a better handle, those two skills should come, at least from 20 feet and in.

Rahat: Does he have a post-up game?

Glenn: Indeed he does.  The fist two years he played at Kentucky, Patrick Patterson was exclusively a post-up player and shot maybe twice from the arc.  He very rarely took a shot outside of 10 feet.  In fact, Patterson was among the most dominant post players in the SEC both his freshman and sophomore years.

It was for this reason and his relatively small size for an NBA post player that he came back to Kentucky for a third year.  In that year he focused on developing a perimeter game and getting to the basket off the dribble.  He was pretty successful in both efforts, and that definitely raised his stock in the eyes of NBA GM’s and coaches.

Rahat: I guess where I am confused is your emphasis upon his poor ball-handling.  Interesting because the ESPN graphic upon his drafting also cited this area as his weakness.  Most power forwards are relatively poor ball-handlers and very few can take their man off the dribble.  When you say that Patrick is a poor ball-handler, do you mean even for a power forward (which would make him downright awful for an NBA player), or do you mean for a combo-forward with hopes of playing some ’3′?

Glenn: I don’t believe I ever said Patrick Patterson was a poor ballhandler.  I believe I said his ballhandling wasn’t bad for college, but it wasn’t quite NBA ready, particularly his left hand.

For two years, Patterson played on the block as a back-to-the-basket player.  Last year, he made a determined effort to  improve his ballhandling and did so, and he was able to take his man off the dribble a few times.  The problem is, he really didn’t need to do it that much.

Patterson’s role in the offense last year was as the second option behind Cousins in the half-court, and the first or second option on the break.  When he was the first option, he ran the floor to get into position to receive one of many lobs from Wall or Bledsoe.  When he was the second option, Wall would try to get to the rim on the break, and if that failed, Patterson ran the secondary break and would spot up at the top of the key for a 3-point shot before the defense would get set up.  Since everyone played zone against UK, that spot was always open.

In the half court, option #1 for Kentucky was Cousins, usually on the left block because that’s where he could make that spin move to the baseline.  When the double-team came, if it came from the top, Patterson would slide into the short corner.  The ball would get rotated to Bledsoe or Wall, who would drive into the middle, draw Patterson’s defender, and Patrick would get the short jumper.  If the double team came from Patterson’s man, Cousins would dump it to Patterson for the dunk.

Patterson took basically shot the ball from four spots all year:  The right short corner, the right deep corner, the top of the key, and layups.  90% of those were off the catch, so he had very little actual opportunity to show off his ballhandling or use it.  But when he did, it was always to the right and usually off a catch near the elbow, where he would slash to the rim.

Patterson has an above-average handle for a 4-man, and a below-average handle for a 3.  He will get much better, primarily by developing his left hand so he is not so predictable, but he is not a bad ball handler for either position.

in conversations

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