We're getting to the point in the BKAP series in which I'm starting to write about players I actually like. And I think I speak for the At the Hive staff when I say that we'd very much like to see the Hornets draft Patterson. Here's why: he's extraordinarily efficient on offense, can play multiple roles on defense, is able to fit as a role player, and has crazy intangibles. The knocks on Patterson are small - you can question his defensive rebounding ability and point out that his ceiling isn't as high as many other players in the draft. But Patterson is a guy that I think will wind up moving up the draft boards of teams in the weeks prior to the draft, and the Hornets will be lucky to grab him at the 11th spot.
Bio: Born on international pi day (March 14) in Washington, DC, Patterson grew up in Huntington, WV, where he lead Huntington High School to three straight state titles, the last one with a little help from this guy. There was a well-publicized recruiting fight between Kentucky, Duke, and Florida, but Patterson wound up choosing Kentucky. Really, there's awfully little bio to be found about this guy - he always seems to be in the shadows. At Huntington, he was overshadowed by O.J. Mayo, at Kentucky, DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall got all the press. As athletic and talented as he is, he seems to get very little attention.
Stats: Patterson really shines in per-possession statistics. Draft Express drops some statistical knowledge: Patterson produced the most points per possession among power forwards last year (1.139 PPP), while using 12.3 possessions per game, roughly average. He's a proven scorer in all facets of the game, scoring about equally in spot-up situations, in post-up situations, in transition, and off offensive rebounds. Another factor leading to his astronomical efficiency is low his turnover rate - he turns the ball over about once per game, or on just 8.3% of possessions.
Patterson's rebounding, though, is cause for concern. He averaged 8.7, 10.8, and 8.6 rebounds per forty minutes, pace adjusted (REB/40p) in his freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons, respectively. His offensive rebounds stayed constant (3.2, 3.1, 3.5), but his defensive rebounding declined heavily after his sophomore season (5.5, 7.7, 5.1). A good portion of this precipitous drop-off is likely due to Patterson's position and role change with the addition of DeMarcus Cousins in Patterson's junior year. Patterson moved from center to power forward, meaning that he would get less rebounding opportunities. In addition, Cousins is a rebound vacuum, posting sky-high rebounding figures in his freshman season. Still, the low rebound rate is cause for concern - a power forward should be getting more rebounds than Patterson is.
Skills: Patterson's junior season saw an impressive expansion of his skill set. Previously being locked into the post as a center, the addition of DeMarcus Cousins pushed Patterson to Power Forward, where he showcased newfound shooting skills, knocking down 35% of threes while taking around two per game. From within the arc, Patterson shot an impressive 63%. His shooting form is excellent and he projects to be an above-average shooter at the NBA level. He maintained a solid post game and has shown an ability to finish near the hoop. He's in tremendous physical shape and uses his strength and frame to his advantage in the paint and on the offensive glass.
Defensively, Patterson has been exposed some by his move to the power forward position. Around the perimeter, he's a lackluster defender that is often beaten laterally by more athletic opponents. In the post, Patterson isn't the most aware defender but exerts solid effort and generally makes his opponents take poor shots. He isn't a shot-blocker but uses his somewhat undersized body effectively. He is strangely poor at defensive rebounding, and that's an issue that will be tough to resolve. Is his impressive sophomore campaign indicative of his defensive rebounding or should he be measured by his embarrassing freshman and junior efforts? Patterson's rebounding will certainly be of concern as teams evaluate him prior to the draft.
Makeup: Usually, I only discuss makeup and character when a player is woefully immature or has a criminal record. But Patterson's work ethic, character, and team-first mentality are so universally lauded that they cannot go without mention. He shifted positions at Kentucky to accommodate an incoming freshman without complaint. John Calipari praises his coachability: "Players like Patrick make coaching seem easy." Patterson impressed at the NBA Combine, giving the best interview of any prospect in the draft. Any team that drafts Patterson is guaranteed a team-first, disciplined player that will reflect well on the organization.
Overall: Patterson is a reasonable fit for the Hornets. He's not a pick-and-roll whiz that could be easily paired with Chris Paul, nor does he provide an immediate upgrade in rebounding. But he would provide Monty Williams with flexibility in the post, since he can play multiple positions, spelling either Emeka or David West. An efficient role player would be very valuable for the Hornets, and he could be of great value to the Hornets in a playoff run next year.