Why We Shouldn’t Be Upset if Patterson is the Pick

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Published: June 24, 2010

I am not saying Patterson will be the pick, but let’s just say I have a very good feeling that he will be a Hornet tonight (unless Aminu falls, at which point it is up in the air between the two). If my “intuitions” are right, then I have a feeling that there will be a lot of disappointed and/or confused Hornet fans ready to blast our front office for another questionable move. While some of those people will never be satisfied, let me try to rationalize it from the Hornets point of view for some of you on the fence.

1.) We have West- why take Patterson, who at best, is a West clone?

If you think a player is the best prospect available, you don’t pass on him just because of the make-up of your current roster. These guys are 19-22 years old and will hopefully be players in the league for 10-15 years. They will not hit their primes for 4-6 years. So why on earth would you draft a guy based solely on how your roster will look next year? 

There is so much turnover in the NBA, that teams who draft based on immediate need end up looking foolish more times than not because by the time their rookie develops, they have a whole different set of needs than when they drafted the guy. And let’s not forget that “experts” blasted our pick of DC last year, saying that at best he could get 15 minutes a game and wouldn’t give us any real value. They suggested Sam Young for us do to our need at SF. How’s that working out? Would anybody trade DC for Sam Young?

Finally, let’s not assume West is here long term. The guy has an opt-out option next year, and he will be a free agent either next year or the following year- at which point he will be either 31 or 32. He will be on the backside of his career and will likely want one last big deal. Have we not seen with Posey, Peja, and Mo what happens when you give a declining player a 4 or 5 year contract? Not saying he is as good as gone sometime in the next two years, but if you think Patterson is the best prospect, you don’t pass on him solely because of the presence of West- just like you don’t pass on DC because of Paul.

2. Patterson doesn’t have the “upside” of other players that will be available.

In 2003 the Hornets selected a guy who was the National Player of the Year. Were they picking top 5? No, they had the 18th pick. They took David West because numerous teams passed on him for guys with less character and more “upside”. Nick Collison was bigger and more athletic. Reece Gaines could jump out of the gym. Zarko Cabarkapa was going to be the next international star. David West was just a boring, high character overacheiver in college who was already 22 and had a lower ceiling. Heck, there was an exciting HS player on the board that the Hornets could have taken named Ndudi Ebi that we passed on and could have lived to regret. 

The Hornets are not afraid of developing raw prospects, especially with Monty Williams as the coach, but that is what people will say after we take the “safe” pick. But what if the “safe” pick just happens to be the best for this team? What if his game, his attitude, his work ethic just fit this team the best? Why can’t that be the case? Those who think that guys like Paul George or Hayward could come in this year and fill that SF hole are crazy. At best, they could be average starters in two years- at which point who knows what our roster will look like. 

If the team feels that Patterson is the best prospect for their team and system, they should take him no matter what the rest of their roster looks like. Think of someone like Brandon Roy going to Golden State. If a guy doesn’t fit your system, doesn’t buy into your philosophy, etc- he isn’t going to reach his ceiling anyway. You get a guy to reach his ceiling by providing a good fit for him and the player has to buy in to what you are selling. If an immature guy who can’t take critisicm comes here, he won’t reach his ceiling anyway. Those kind of guys need 20 things to fall right for them to reach their ceiling, while guys like West and Patterson need much less.

3. Patterson’s numbers just don’t excite me

If you are a numbers guy, then look at Patterson’s sophomore year. If you love the game and understand winning, though, you will appreciate the sacrifice Patterson made for the good of the team. He went from being one of only two options (along with Meeks) to being a part of perhaps the most loaded team in the NCAA the next year. He never complained, never wavered- he just did whatever was needed and sacrificed whatever was needed. 

He added range on his shot to give Cousins room in the paint. He defended on the wing at times to allow both Orton and Cousins to be on the floor together, and he also defended stretch 4′s much of the year because of Cousins. Both of those things killed his rebounding numbers, as he was furthur from the basket, but he didn’t care. He just wanted to win.

There is plenty more to say, but I will save it for after we make our pick- just in case we go another way. Hopefully, though, this article might be in the back of your mind as we make the pick and if it is Patterson, it will stop the panicking.

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