A likely first round pick last year, Patrick Patterson
returned to Kentucky to finish his degree and try to finally make an NCAA tournament appearance, something that had escaped him under Billy Gillespies reign. The clear-cut go-to guy of his team leading into this year, hes been forced to take a backseat to super freshmen DeMarcus Cousins
and John Wall
upon his return to Kentucky, now being led by a new coach in John Calipari. After two very disappointing seasons in Lexington, Patterson has responded extremely well to his new role on arguably the top team in college basketball, emerging as their steady veteran leader and all-around super-efficient glue-guy, which suits both his personality and style of play.
Continuing where we left off with the last of the 10 scouting report entries written on Patterson on this site since his days as a high school standout, the most notable development to point out clearly revolves around his jump-shot. Attempting only 19 mid or long-range jump-shots last season according to Synergy Sports Technology, Patterson has more than tripled that figure already (with plenty more games to go), and is even more impressively knocking down an excellent 47% of his attempts.
Patterson has become a very legitimate perimeter shooting option as his 41% 3-point conversion rate would indicate, which is a very significant development considering the role most power forwards are asked to play in todays NBA. Patterson sports smooth, consistent mechanics with his flat-footed shooting stroke, even if hes almost strictly a wide-open, catch and shoot type with his feet set, as hes yet to hit a single off the dribble jumper on the season according to SST. Oddly enough, Pattersons free throw percentage dropped from an outstanding 77% last year to just 65% this season.
Never one to shy away from using his outstanding body in the paint, Patterson continues to rank as one of the most efficient players in college basketball in both post-up situations and finishing looks created for him around the basket, as evidenced by the 62% he shoots from 2-point range. Slightly undersized, and not freakishly explosive, Patterson regardless has an excellent frame and a very nice wingspan (somewhere in the 7-2 range), which allows him to finish very well around the rim when taking his terrific hands and touch into consideration. He has a couple of very nice moves he can utilize with his back to the basket, most notably a good-looking jump-hook he goes to frequently over his left shoulder and can knock down with range out to 8-10 feet.
While not the most fluid or dynamic power forward youll find in this draft, Patterson has the smarts, fundamentals and aggressive mentality needed to take advantage of his excellent tools, something he may not always be able to show as much as he should due to the amount of weapons on this extremely talented Kentucky roster. He almost never turns the ball over (committing about one per game) and rarely takes a bad shot, understanding his role in Kentuckys offense and executing it extremely well, even though hes gradually been forced to defer more and more to ultra-talented freshman center DeMarcus Cousins
, something youll never see him complain about.
Where Patterson needs to improve is with his ball-handling skills, as you rarely see him facing up from the perimeter, creating his own shot and taking his man off the dribble, being mostly relegated to straight-line drives with his right hand, looking somewhat of out control even on these simple and infrequent attempts.
Moving from the 5 to the 4 has had an effect on Patterson not just offensively, but also on the defensive end. Forced to spend more time guarding undersized forwards on the perimeter now, and asked to cover quite a bit of space in Caliparis wide-ranging scheme, Pattersons limitations in this area look a bit more glaring, although the experience he is garnering here will likely pay off down the road. Patterson seems to put a solid effort in on the perimeter, but his lateral quickness, average awareness and occasional hesitation to aggressively body up his matchup makes him a bit less effective than he should be.
In the post, Patterson suffers from some of the same issues, not always showing the best awareness and lacking a degree of physicality, but ultimately being fairly effective. His length, strength and athleticism are major assets at this level, and allow him to do a good job contesting his opponents shots, especially when hes really dialed into the task.
One area where Patterson is bafflingly poor is on the defensive glass, ranking amongst the worst at his position in that category amongst likely draft prospects, which is disappointing to say the least. Patterson was quite a bit more effective in this area last season without DeMarcus Cousins
(an absolute monster rebounder on both ends), while not forced to spend as much time out on the perimeter playing the center position.
Patterson was still very poor in this area as a freshman as well, so NBA teams may wonder about how good of a defensive rebounder he projects as at the next level. He doesnt always play as tough as his chiseled body indicates he should, not boxing out that well and rarely going out of his area to come up with extra possessions. As an offensive rebounder hes quite a bit more effective.
Despite the nitpicking, Patterson is the type of player NBA teams can comfortably project into a fairly significantly role as a productive, high character, role-playing power forward. Only turning 21 in a few days, there is still reason to believe that he can continue to improve on his weaknesses down the road, as he appears to be an intelligent and highly coachable player who is scheduled to graduate after just three years, which is quite a feat. Players like Patterson seem to do quite well in todays NBA, and the fact that he comes in ready to produce and has terrific intangibles is only an added bonus.