You don't see a team with the fourteenth overall pick make a "safe" pick in the interest of drafting for talent over need. Then again, you don't see guys like Patrick Patterson come around all too often- a player so fundamentally (and mentally) sound that it hurt his draft stock.
Daryl Morey must have set his personal NBA Draft perspiration record during the ten seconds it took David Stern to announce the Toronto Raptors pick Thursday night. Likewise, he probably hadn't breathed a bigger sigh of relief once Stern announced that Ed Davis was the Raptors' selection. Apparently, the Rockets war room went nuts when Davis' name was called.
If that's not indicative with how comfortable the team is with Patterson, I don't know what is.
There's something to be said about productivity when evaluating an NBA prospect. Upside can only count for so much, and unless a team is willing to develop a player as raw as Hustler, they're better off not taking a huge risk on an "upside" guy with their first round pick. We saw it last night with Hassan Whiteside. Teams simply don't want to pay first-round cash to a player with the potential to fall flat on his face. They want somewhat of a guarantee.
Aside from John Wall, there may not be a bigger guarantee in this draft than Patterson, considering where he was drafted. The junior from Kentucky wasn't supposed to fall to fourteen. Under this assumption, I had hoped the Rockets would trade out of the pick and try a different route. But somehow, some way, Patterson inexplicably dropped. Of all the players that the Rockets could have taken at fourteen, Patrick is the most NBA-ready, and he still has plenty of potential to improve. The Rockets couldn't have been luckier. It's similar to the Spurs landing James Anderson with the 20th pick. My money is on Patterson and Anderson to be the two biggest steals of this draft, because for some reason, teams prefer numbers like "40 inch vertical" over "22 points per game in the Big 12."
Doesn't Patterson feel more comfortable than a player like Derrick Favors? Perhaps Favors could become the better player. But perhaps he won't. We know what we get with Patterson, at least from the start. Take a look at some of his characteristics according to various scouting reports.
Polished... leader... veteran presence... efficient... coachable... versatile... strong intangibles... etc.
Aren't most teams still trying to find current NBA players with these characteristics? There aren't a ton of these types out there - they are rare, and they are valued. We managed to find one for ourselves and he hasn't even played a single minute of pro ball yet.
The funny thing is that while I spend a ton of time trying to pipe up Patterson as an individual, he's still one hell of a basketball player. Really can't wait to see him play in the Summer League. He should dominate, honestly.