Top 10 Former ‘Cats in the NBA: Patrick Patterson (No. 9)


Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

From veteran role players to up-and-coming superstars, the Kentucky Wildcats are well represented in the NBA. Over the next month I’ll be ranking the ten best former ‘Cats with a quick breakdown of each. It will be a bit different from your typical top 10 list, though, as what each player has already accomplished in the league won’t factor in as heavily as what they can potentially offer down the road. In short, think about each player’s upside when critiquing these rankings (Sorry, Tayshaun).

Brandon Knight (10); Patrick Patterson (9)

Patrick Patterson wasn’t a John Calipari recruit at Kentucky, but you could be fooled into thinking he was. It’s no mystery to how much Patterson meant to the 2010 team and Calipari went out of his way to tell everyone anyways. When Patterson decided to return for his junior season — Calipari’s first year on the job — Calipari had this to say, “Patrick is a remarkable individual. His decision to return to the University of Kentucky for a chance to graduate in three years is admirable. Fans will see things from him this season that they didn’t think were possible. Players like Patrick make coaching seem easy.”

Those “things” Calipari spoke of were numerous, but none bigger than Patterson developing a 3-point shot. In the two seasons under Billy Gillispie, Patterson attempted four shots from behind the arc (he missed all four). A year later, with Calipari in charge, Patterson shot 69 3s and connected on 34.8 percent of them. The percentage wasn’t that impressive, but Patterson’s willingness to shoot from the outside and be somewhat of a threat opened up the floor for the likes of John Wall and Eric Bledsoe.

That shooting has transferred to the next level for Patterson. He’s a career 36 percent 3-point shooter in the NBA and is coming off a 48-game span with the Toronto Raptors where he posted a 41 percent clip. A 6-foot-9 power forward that can do that and rebound is a valuable commodity, but it took until this summer for Patterson to find what appears to be a home. After being selected by the Houston Rockets in the 2010 Draft and spending two and a half seasons with them, the Rockets shipped him to Sacramento. The Kings were hoping he would help grow their young cornerstone and former Kentucky teammate DeMarcus Cousins, but that experiment didn’t last long either, as Patterson was involved in a package to Toronto for Rudy Gay.

Patterson used those 48 games north of the border and a solid playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets to land a 3-year, $18 million contract from the Raptors this summer. He proved to be a near perfect fit next to either one of Toronto’s other bigs in Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson. While there are some defensive limitations in Patterson’s game, he’s proved to be a solid asset on the offensive end; he can be relatively efficient from the mid-range, especially on the left baseline. The Raptors will bring back just about everyone from a team that made the playoffs last season and Patterson seems to be a key part of the foundation.

It looks like Patterson has fully embraced his role as a floor-spacing big — a task many younger players in the league struggle with early on in their careers. He is just 25 years-old, so there could be room for improvement, but for now he comes in at No. 9 on this list.