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Friday June 25, 2010 1:28 AM

Welcome To Houston!


Rockets get their man, nab Patrick Patterson with 14th overall pick

Jason Friedman
Rockets.com

WATCH ROCKETS VP OF BASKETBALL OPS KEITH JONES WELCOME PATRICK PATTERSON TO HOUSTON

HOUSTON - Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

That was one of the first things out of Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey’s mouth following the selection of Kentucky forward Patrick Patterson with the No. 14 pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft.

No question fortune favored the Rockets on draft night. For weeks they had locked-in on Patterson as one of their prime targets, revealing after the fact that he was ranked No. 6 overall on their draft board and that the team made several unsuccessful overtures to move up in an effort to secure the right to select him.

What Morey neglected to mention, however, is the tried and true maxim which states that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Yes, there were several tense moments leading up to the Rockets’ pick as the club held its collective breath while waiting to see if someone else would snatch Patterson away. But a year’s worth of hard work, sleepless nights and due diligence ultimately paid off when the former Wildcat fell into their laps at 14, setting off a series of high fives and celebratory shouts in the Rockets’ war room.

“We can’t believe it worked out the way it did,” said Rockets Director of Scouting Gerald Madkins. “One good thing that we loved about the kid is that if you look over his career, he has been the number-one guy, the go-to guy and he has been a guy that can fill a role. This year with all the freshmen coming in, they kind of took the hype away from him and he didn’t skip a beat. He was just as productive, his approach never changed. Those are the kind of guys we love in our locker room. Guys with a straight-forward approach, they don’t worry about what role they take on. They just show up for work every day and do the best they can, and he’s proven that over his time in college.”

Patterson (6-9, 240), who was an early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft, averaged 16.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.57 blocks in 97 career games at Kentucky. He was a two-time All-SEC First-Team pick as a junior and sophomore, as well as a Second-Team selection as a freshman.

“I can’t stop smiling. I’m shaking on the inside,” said Patterson on being drafted by the Rockets. “Finally my dream has come true (being drafted). I’m just trying to soak all this in. One bit at a time – just enjoy every single second of this. I can’t wait to get out there and meet everybody. I’m just extremely happy right now.

“What comes to mind when I think about the Rockets is just tradition, history and success,” added Patterson. “Hakeem (Olajuwon) and all the great players who have played there. The history and just the love for the game. The support from the city. The city loves to win and the organization loves to win.”

After the draft was complete, Morey revealed that he’s been a fan of Patterson’s game for years, and that he’s ecstatic to welcome the newest member of the team to town.

“I think his versatility and his work ethic (are his best assets),” said the Rockets GM. “His ability to play down low, with his back to the basket, space the floor and defend all 4s in the league and some 5s, gives us real flexibility. Plus we think he has a real chance to be a very solid starter in this league and potentially more.”

A native of Washington D.C., Patterson averaged 14.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.34 blocks in 38 starts as a junior, earning First-Team All-SEC, AP Honorable Mention All-American, USBWA All-District IV Team and NABC All-District 21 Second-Team honors. As a sophomore, Patterson was the only SEC player to rank in the league’s top-five in scoring (17.9 ppg) and rebounding (9.3 rpg), while shooting a career-high .603 (240-398 FG) from the field and blocking 70 shots (2.06 bpg).

Patterson was one of five Wildcats picked in the opening round, which was the first time five players from one school were chosen in the first round of the NBA Draft.

And 1s: Gerald Madkins, Rockets Director of Scouting on the selection of Patrick Patterson:

“We can’t believe it worked out the way it did. We are extremely happy. He was our number-one guy we were targeting, number-six overall.”

What position do you see him playing with the team?

“I think at the Combines he measured really well. That’s why we were so excited leaving the Combines after he tested almost true-size power forward. You can speculate on whether that’s 6-10 or 6-9, but we are really happy. We feel like he fits in really well with our cast and we are just ecstatic that we got him.”

“One good thing that we loved about this kid is that if you look over his career, he has been the number-one guy, the go-to guy and he has been a guy that can fill a role. This year with all the freshmen coming in, they kind of took the hype away from him and he didn’t skip a beat. He was just as productive, his approach never changed. Those are the kind of guys we love in our locker room. Guys with a straight-forward approach, they don’t worry about what role they take on. They just show up for work every day and do the best they can, and he’s proven that over his time in college.”

Defensive presence at the rim?

“Patrick is a quality defender. He’s probably a better team defender right now … most young guys coming into league are going to be that way. We see him as a guy that is going to be a little diversity to the things we can do defensively. This year he has shown he can play out on the floor a little bit and I think that helps our defense tremendously.”

Can you compare his game to Jordan’s (Hill)?

“Patrick’s game is a little different. He’s shown his ability to play out on the floor a little bit more than he has in the past. He is shooting college 3-pointers well now … his mobility for a power forward is really, really good. I think Jordan may be a little more back-to-the-basket kind of guy. He is a guy that will play for us some five and I don’t think Patrick will do that, so there are some differences in that respect.”

Is he comparable to Carl Landry?

“Well, Carl is one of the most productive guys scoring the ball around in our league. I think Patrick at some point in his career can be a pretty good scorer, but comparing him to Carl is not fair right now. Patrick brings a lot of intangibles that teams love to have, especially winning teams like we think we can be.”

Athleticism?

“He tested very well in Chicago and when we brought him here to workout. He was comparable to most of the guys that we brought through here at his position. We are very comfortable with his athleticism.”

How much of it is how he fits needs in the roster as opposed to just him?

“I think it’s important to add quality people to your locker room. I really do. Not to take away anything from his on the court abilities, but he really fits in with our culture – hardworking, professional approach. You really can’t measure that and I think we value that more than most teams, so it did weigh heavily. I think you guys are going to be very impressed at how well this guy understands and plays the game.”

How much is it a need for “bigs,” as opposed to it being best available?

“Like I said, he was number one on our board and six overall for us, so we considered him the number-one guy that we wanted because he checked all the boxes for us. Need, size, locker room, just down the line for us. We are ecstatic about this pick … absolutely ecstatic.”

If you had to pick one aspect of his game that needs to improve?

“I would say probably scoring the ball with his back to the basket right now. He made the transition from a back-to-the-basket player to a perimeter player. Maybe in the future he will be a better back-to-the-basket player, but right now he needs work on that more than anything.”

Is he a four or a three?

“I would project him more of a four, guarding fours.”

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