Patrick Patterson is an unsung reason why John Calipari should be in the mind of every recruit with NBA aspirations coming out of high school. We all know that Calipari is a peerless recruiter, and those of us close to him really respect his ability to develop players. Patterson, however, is an example of how his "players first" mentality and forward-thinking allow players to succeed at the next level, as well as at this level.
When Calipari came to Kentucky, Patterson was your typical back-to-the basket power forward, and a pretty good one. Kentucky had relied on him for two years to be the strongman underneath the basket, and Patterson delivered on that expectation.
But Calipari knew that Patterson would not be a back-to-the-basket player at the next level, in the NBA. So he transitioned Patterson to the 3-spot, taught him a face-up game, and Patterson became one of the more reliable 3-point shooters for the Wildcats in 2009-10. Under Calipari, his offensive rating went from 122.4 to 128.7 (5th in all of America), and his 3-point shooting percentage went from 0.00 to .348 - not exactly J.J. Redick, but a reliable and solid 3-point shooter emerged from a player who didn't take a single 3-point shot the two years prior. His final year at UK, Patterson took a total of 69 threes, 5th most on the team.
Now consider this post from SBNation.com's Drew Garrison. Garrison shows, in graphic detail and with lots of video the kind of game Patterson now plays. But that's not all. Consider this:
Patterson is the reason the Kings' offense was so potent in the second half of the season -- Sacramento had the league's seventh-best offense after the All-Star break despite the presence of many shoot-first players, according to NBA.com.
Patterson's shooting range allows him to find open shots on the perimeter, but the threat of his long-range game also helps his teammates. The Kings averaged over 108 points per 100 possessions while Patterson was on the floor, per NBA.com. When Thompson was on the floor, they only averaged 103.5 points per 100 possessions. When Hayes was on the court, that mark sunk further to 102.3 points per 100 possessions. Hayes and Thompson only attempted two three-point field goals combined the entire season and did not connect on either. Patterson, meanwhile, was a 44 percent three-point shooter with the Kings.
Patterson is now a master of the pick-and-pop, and his overall athleticism force defenses to defend him off the bounce as well as on the perimeter. Per a Facebook post from John Calipari last night:
Loved seeing Patrick Patterson went for 27 points and 8 rebounds tonight. Even better, he made 3 three-pointers in the game. That lets me know it was the right move to play him more on the perimeter. Just think, he never even made a 3 before his last season at UK.
Coach Cal, ever the recruiter. This is a man who never, ever wastes an opportunity to show off the future benefits of playing for the Wildcats. Toot that horn, Coach Cal. We're down with it. And just in case you haven't heard or read about Patterson's big game, you can read about it here.
If you're a UK fan, it obviously warms the cockles of your heart to see Patterson succeed. He represented the breaking of a long dry spell at Kentucky, and even if the days of Billy Gillispie overall were times most of us would love to excise from our memories, Patterson is one of the reasons we don't — not only was he a great guy and a great teammate, but he came to Kentucky at a time when getting 5-star recruits was as rare as hen's teeth. He came to Kentucky before coming to Kentucky was cool.
And now, it's paying off for him, big time. His latest success is just one example.
Footnote: Sacramento is now Kentucky West, with no less than three former Wildcats on the roster — all fan favorites: DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, and Chuck Hayes.