Thursday, July 30, 2009

Patrick Patterson: Ready for a breakout season?

Well, maybe breakout season isn't the correct term. Is it really possible to "breakout" when you averaged 16 and 7 as a freshman and 18 and 9 as a sophomore?

No one is saying that Patrick Patterson is not already a beast. Standing at 6'9", 240 lb of muscle, Patterson has become arguably the best power forward in the country and will be the focal point for a team that many expect to make a push for the Final Four.

18 and 9 (and 2 blocks, I might add) is a pretty impressive stat line. Enough to have made him a lottery pick had he left Kentucky after last season.

Why, given the influx of talented newcomers to Lexington, should we expect Patterson to explode this season?

Patrick Patterson has spent this summer working out with Blake Griffin's trainer.
(photo credit: Kentucky Sports Radio)

It's simple really. Patterson, and freshman teammate Daniel Orton, are spending the summer working out with Frank Mastriciano. That's the same guy that Blake Griffin worked out with last summer, and we all know how that turned out.

So should we expect a player of the year type season out of Patterson?

It wouldn't surprise me, but I wouldn't bet on it either. There are two major differences between Patterson and Griffin. For starters, they are a different breed of power forward. Griffin is more coordinated and has better ball skills, which allows him to play some out on the perimeter. No knock on PP, but he is not the athletic specimin Griffin is. Griffin's offensive repertoire was, as a result, much more diverse - he could score in the paint, he could hit a 17 footer, he could face up and blow by on the perimeter, and he could run the break as a wing or leading it. Patterson is more of a strictly post-up, pound-it-down-low kind of guy.

The other, and probably more important, factor is what the two players have surrounding them. Until Willie Warren came on at the end of the season, it was basically the Blake Griffin show in Norman. Austin Johnson, Taylor Griffin, Tony Crocker - these guys were good role players, but none of them really had much NBA potential.

Now look at UK's roster. John Wall could have been the first pick in this year's draft. DeMarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton, and maybe even Darnell Dodson are legitimate NBA prospects. It doesn't take a genius to figure out Kentucky has talent from top to bottom.

And with that talent comes the need for shots and for playing time. Is Patterson going to get 36 minutes a game with Orton, Cousins, and Perry Stevenson joining him up front? Is he going to get enough post touches with talents like Wall, Dodson, and Eric Bledsoe on the perimeter?

The answer? Probably not.

But just because he doesn't post 22 and 13 doesn't mean Patterson isn't the best four in the country.

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