This draft lacks the depth of last year’s, and there aren’t a lot of players that can come in and play right away. You aren’t going to find somebody of Lawson’s caliber with the 20th pick, or even the 15th pick. However, there could be a few gems late like Trevor Booker, Elliott Williams and Jordan Crawford that break into a rotation but few that can play immediately. Even somebody like Cole Aldrich may struggle during his first year in the NBA, due to his lack of athleticism.
However, one that is flying below the radar (partly due to the potential of his college teammates) is power forward Patrick Patterson. Patterson, who is one of five players from Kentucky that is predicted to be picked in the first round, never stood out with the Wildcats, but he was quietly consistent. He isn’t overly big (listed at 6-foot-9, 240 points), and is built similar to Atlanta’s Al Horford or Utah’s Carlos Boozer. He showed solid strength, benching the press 17 times (Horford did it 20, Boozer 13 and Nuggets’ center Nene had 16), and while he doesn’t have the size of former teammate DeMarcus Cousins. He is far more disciplined and a lot harder of a worker.
He has developing offensive skills, very good basketball IQ and a power forward’s demeanor. If there is one word to describe Patterson it is solid. He is a solid rebounder, solid defender and solid scorer. And the way the Nuggets bigs were bullied by Paul Millsap and Carlos Boozer, Patterson would be a welcomed addition to the frontcourt. Especially with Kenyon Martin heading into the final year of his contract.
The 21-year-old is projected to be a top-15 pick, and there could be a few teams in that area of the draft interested in the Nuggets assets – especially the Nuggets most electrifying player, JR Smith.
- INDIANA, 10th pick – There aren’t many players in this draft that can help the Pacers, they aren’t great anywhere (except small forward), but have quite a few role players. A JR Smith would help this team more than a Gordon Hayward would. Indiana is a poor man’s Golden State, the Pacers want to run but lack the talent to. The only guy that can score on the team is Danny Granger, everybody else needs help and Smith can help. Of course, Denver would want Jeff Foster back and the Pacers haven’t shown the willingness to trade him.
- NEW ORLEANS, 11th pick – The Hornets have already had, and have also already given up on Smith. But Smith, who spent his first two seasons in New Orleans, still remains close to Hornets’ star point guard Chris Paul. While it is doubtful the Hornets are interested in Smith because of his skills, but considering New Orleans is in the cost-cutting stage they might be willing to part with the pick if the Nuggets take back the contract of James Posey.
- MILWAUKEE, 15th pick – Smith is not a Scott Skiles-type player, but neither was Brandon Jennings. And JR has proven to be the key to getting teams over the hump, and with John Salmons on the verge of demanding quite a bit of money in free agency, Smith might be worth the gamble for the Bucks – especially a one year gamble. Of course for any deal to happen the Nuggets would have be willing take back the last season of Dan Gadzuric’s contract, but they would probably want more as well.
- MINNESOTA, 16th pick – Minnesota and New Jersey are two ideal places for JR, because they could each use his talent from being bad to better. But for this deal to work at all Patterson would have to drop this far and the Timberwolves would have to be willing to part ways with Mr. Versatile Ryan Gomes. Seems doubtful for both teams.