Houston Rockets forward Patrick Patterson, left, goes against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison, right, in the first half of NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Okla., on Nov. 28. (Photo : Reuters)
Is another star on the rise in Houston?
On a team with high-profile lightning rods such as James Harden and Jeremy Lin, one would be hard-pressed to say that a guy with a career point average of 7.9 points per game would be a major contributor, and yet Patrick Patterson has the potential to be just that.
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Patterson, the athletic 6'9, 235 pound forward/center from the University of Kentucky, hasn't really come across as a major offensive threat in his first two NBA seasons, where he averaged 6.3 points in his 2010-11 rookie year and 7.7 points per game in 64 games with the Rockets last year.
But something is very different this year about Patterson. The young 23-year-old native of Washington D.C., has been putting up some eyebrow-raising totals in offensive categories. Of the 15 games that Patterson has played for the Rockets this season, he has scored in double digits in 11 of those games.
But he has been particularly great in the last six games. Barring a 10-point showing against the Knicks on Nov. 23, Patterson has scored 19 or more points in five of the last six games, and 20 or more points in the last three games in a row.
So, what gives? How is a player with such low point totals in the last two seasons suddenly on this offensive tear?
"The ball seems to be dropping," Patterson told the Houston Chronicle. "I'm capitalizing on my opportunities, taking shots, (getting) a couple offensive rebounds for putbacks. My teammates are looking for me a lot more than prior to the season, and my shots have been falling."
The ball does indeed seem to be working well for Patterson, who is shooting 51.1 percent from the floor this season, only four points shy of his career best 55.8 percent in his rookie year.
Specifically, Patterson has recently been doing phenomenal from the three-point line--where he has only shot five times from in the last two seasons.
So far, Patterson--who said he worked on his three-ball shot all summer--is making 37.5 of his three-point shots, or 12-of-32 in the season. In the last five games in November, Patterson went 6-of-12 from downtown, and 2-for-5 when he scored 20 points in a 124-116 win over the Jazz on Saturday.
With Patterson's offense surging, as well as the steady improvement of second-year player Chandler Parsons, who is averaging 21.5 points in the last five games, including a 31-point outburst against the Knicks on Nov. 23, Houston's new offensive-minded forwards could pay big dividends for Lin and Harden.
With Lin particularly looking for more scoring options outside the explosive Harden, Houston's offense, the third-highest in the league with 103.5 points a night, could become one of the league's quickest, utilizing the youth of Patterson and Parsons to create more fast break and pick-and-roll options to run their opponents ragged as they look for ways to contain the athletic Rockets teams.
And the added production of the big men would ease the scoring burden on Harden, the fifth-best scorer in the league at 24.1 points, while setting up more targets for Lin to pass to, and perhaps even give him a few more looks with Patterson and Parsons emerging as new threats for opposing teams to contain.
For Patterson, it's all about maintaining his confidence.
"My teammates are looking for me," Patterson said. "If I'm knocking them down, I'm going to keep shooting them. My teammates having that confidence, passing to me when I'm on the perimeter, makes me want to shoot it more."