Hornets Big Prospects: Aldrich and Patterson

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Published: June 8, 2010

From what I’ve seen, there are four prospects the Hornets have zeroed in on before the workouts have occurred: Cole Aldrich, Patrick Patterson, Paul George, and Xavier Henry.  Since it’s possible we’ll see one of these players next year, I decided to spend a little more time on each one.  Today, I’ll address the two big men the Hornets are rumored to like: Patrick Patterson and Cole Aldrich.

Cole Aldrich, C, 21 years old

Last year, Aldrich was expected to go in the top 5 in the draft, but this season at Kansas appears to have damaged his stock.  He was down in most major categories, and appeared much more limited offensively than the year before.  As a result, he’s projected by most to go between 8th and 13th in the draft, which puts him right in the Hornets’ range. 

Specific Strengths: Aldrich fits the classic mold of a big man that can defend, rebound and block shots.  Among all the prospects in this draft, he has the best defensive rebound rate, and has the third best rebound rate overall behind DeMarcus Cousins and Brian Zoubek.  Considering the Hornets troubles on the glass last year, this could prove invaluable.  As a shot blocker, Cole also excelled, sending back the 4th most shots per posession (7.88 per 100 posessions) in the draft.  He is also not a lumbering stiff – showing a surprising ability to hedge on the pick and roll – something that was completely lacking from anyone in the Hornets frontcourt last year.  In all, he would provide a complete defensive big man package, something no Hornets big man could claim last year.  Offensively, he’s good in a set offense, setting solid screens, rolling well, and generally being in the right spot.

Specific Weaknesses: Scoring and Playmaking.  Aldrich wasn’t terrible, but among big men prospects in this draft, he was about average at everything offensive.  He was ranked in the middle at field goal percentage, assist rate, free throw percentage, and his ability to draw fouls.  The only offensive thing he was good at was limiting turnovers – though he was VERY good at that, something I’m always happy to see. He’s also not too likely to be a factor in transition or helter-skelter offense.  Not that the Hornets play that way very much.

Summary: Personally, after reviewing some game tape on him and studying his advanced stats, I think he may actually be the best fit for the Hornets out of the list of four.  He adds a capable, tall third big to the rotation, could play equally well with Okafor or West, and does three things the Hornets were absolutely terrible at.  The two things he’s particularly good at – rebounding and limiting turnovers – translate best from college to the pros, so should the Hornets draft him, we can expect a continuation of those skills.  The Hornets are also a fairly conservative team, doing a lot of their damage in the halfcourt.  I think Aldrich could help quite a bit there.

Physical Data from the NBA Draft Combine

Player Height w/o Shoes Weight Wingspan Standing Reach No Step Vert Max Vert Bench Press Lane Agility 3/4 Court Sprint
Average Center 6′ 9.97″ 252 7′ 2.9″ 9′ 1.7″ 26.6 30.5 11.7 12.14 3.43
Cole Aldrich 6’9″ 236 7’4.75″ 9’3.5″ 23 28 10 11.75 3.35

Patrick Patterson, PF, 21 years old

The Hornets were apparently impressed with Patrick Patterson at the pre-draft combine.  Of all the top prospects, he was the only one who was willing to take part in the basketball drills – and the Hornets even went so far as to cancel their interviews with those prospects who did not participate in the drills.  As a result, he fit in perfectly with their conservative outlook and determination to get good character players who “do the right thing”.

Specific Strengths:  Patterson appears to be the consumate roleplayer, taking a backseat willingly to his two more talented teammates John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.  He shifted position to the power forward, learned new perimeter oriented skills to fit into the role and showed off a very, very impressive mid range jumper.  As a result Patterson ranked in the top 5 among big men for efficient scoring – though most of it was off of offensive rebounds and short jumpers.    Other than that, Patterson posted a well above average turnover rate, and a offensive rebound rate in the top 3rd of big men.

Specific Weaknesses: Rebounding, defense and shot-blocking.  Despite solid offensive rebound numbers, Patterson posted a downright awful rebound rate, ranking 3rd from the bottom with his overall rebound rate.  He also showed no ability to block shots, posting numbers well below average in this category as well.  In truth, at everything but knocking down open shots, Patterson did not post a lot of inspiring stats.

Summary: I think Patterson duplicates everything the Hornets already have at the Power Forward position in David West and Darius Songaila.  Drafting him would do little to address the holes that exist in the Hornets frontcourt.  Now maybe there is a role for him in New Orleans if they are planning to move Songaila, but as of right now, I am desperately hoping that Patterson’s fine character does not overwhelm the fact he’s not that special as an NBA prospect.

Physical Data from the NBA Draft Combine

Player Height w/o Shoes Weight Wingspan Standing Reach No Step Vert Max Vert Bench Press Lane Agility 3/4 Court Sprint
Average PF 6′ 7.70″ 235 7′ 0.8″ 8′ 10.6″ 28.4 32.8 13 11.7 3.31
Patterson 6’8″ 240 7’1.25″ 8’11” 28.5 33.5 15 11.14 3.25
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