Friday, December 11, 2009

In the Spotlight: Patrick Patterson

Patrick Patterson

Position: Power Forward
Ht: 6-8, Wt: 235
Hometown: Huntington, WV
Class: Junior
College: Kentucky
DOB: 3-14-89

  • Works very hard to seal his defender and establish low position on the block… Shoots a high % from the field - Close to the basket, finishing off penetration, or when he’s given room from the outside.
  • Very strong – impressive physical stature
  • Tremendous wingspan - 7’2 -– helps to offset his height, which is smaller than a prototype 4.
  • Very good athlete with great bounce off the floor
  • Soft hands
  • Shoots a high percentage from the free throw line for a big – good form.
  • Plays Hard, Good motor – very aggressive / active on the court
  • Highly proficient with his right jump hook (his go-to move), which utilizes his soft touch around the rim and quick bounce off his feet.
  • Quick to the ball – shows good reaction time.
  • Vastly improving his jump shot – his form is much improved from a year ago – looks much more confident and his range has expanded to the 3 pt line. (he must continue to improve)
  • Great outlet passer – After securing rebounds does a great job getting the ball up court and starting a transition opportunity.
  • Physical style on both sides of the ball – willing to give up his body and take contact – Does a lot of the the dirty work in the paint.
  • Sets solid on the ball screens – Becoming more adept at playing pick and pop.
  • Sprints up and down the court.
  • Good timing on the defensive end – blocks / alters quite a few shots
  • Possess the physical components to defend at the next level (length, athleticism, mobility, strength)...aside from height.

  • Undersized 4 for the NBA level
  • Needs to further develop his offensive repertoire in the post and become more proficient with his back to the basket…He won’t be able to rely so much on establishing very low position, as his game advances to the next level… Right now, he’s very limited with his moves when he gets the ball down low.
  • Rarely utilizes his Left Hand around the rim – In the post, he’s much more effective when he turns to his left shoulder and shoots right, as he’s not comfortable turning right and finishing with his left hand.
  • Has a tendency to play behind the defense in the offensive sets, when he wants to get very low position, making it tough to feed him the ball… lets the opposition front him, making for a tough entry pass.
  • Lacks the versatility to play the 3 – he’s most comfortable in the paint
  • Needs to do a better job hedging out defensively, to prevent penetration and allow teammates to recover after being screened.
  • Only true position he can defend is the 4, as he lacks the height to guard the 5 and the foot speed to defend the 3.


Early in the season, it looks as if Patrick Patterson made a very wise decision returning to college for his Junior year. Offensively, the big question mark that surrounded Patterson coming into this season, was his ability to knock down a mid-range jumper with consistency. Thus far he’s done a great job showing that he’s become a more consistent mid-range shooter, even displaying range that extends out to the 3 point line.

Patterson’s current style of play – relying on establishing extremely low position and using his impressive body to pick up easy buckets, won’t translate at the next level. Especially as an undersized 4, which is why adding a nice shooting touch, to compliment his ability to finish around the rim, makes him a much better prospect for the NBA game.

There’s also a lot to really like about Patterson’s game, but one of the most telling signs of Patterson’s development has been the way he’s blended in with the Kentucky freshman class. Despite the buzz surrounding the freshman, it’s been Patterson who’s done the things that get you W’s (rebounding, taking charges, helping defensively when guards are beat on penetration, shooting a high fg % from the floor, scrapping for loose balls, etc). His maturity and the way he now plays within the flow of the offense are telling indicators about far he’s come as a player.

Patterson will be an undersized 4 at the next level, but his athleticism, strength and aggressive style of play, help to partially offset some of this deficiency.

One area I’d like to see Patterson continue to improve is his defensive awareness. There were times when he failed to hedge out on pick and rolls, and also lost his man in the paint. He’s done a good job helping to protect the rim, I’d just like to see him become more complete defensively.

My Take
Patrick Patterson has the ability to be productive at the next level.   His style of play will fit in very nicely, as a compliment to playmakers in the NBA. Someone willing to do the dirty work, use his body to set solid on the ball screens, play physical / be aggressive, and also possess the athleticism to finish around the rim.

Patterson will never be a guy the offense runs through at the next level, so hitting a jumper with consistency, will force defenses to account for him. He’s displayed a much improved shooting stroke this season and thus his confidence has soared, but he’ll have to demonstrate he can get the job done in this area throughout the season.

With that said, Patterson might not have the ceiling of other players in the upcoming 2010 draft – doesn’t have all-star potential / won’t be a 1st or 2nd option offensively – but his style of play has winning potential at the next level. For that reason, I would look start to look closely at Patterson, with picks #12 - #15.

*Resembles Udonis Haslem, with more athleticism. 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

In the Spotlight: DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins
Position: Center
Ht: 6-11, Wt: 260
Hometown: Mobile, AL
Class: Freshman
College: Kentucky
DOB: 8-13-89

  • Great size and length – Wide, strong, well built – NBA ready body
  • Extremely advanced skill set for a 6’11 Center – impressive
  • Great hands
  • Able to use his body / wide frame to establish low position. Gets his defender sealed down low, which makes him very difficult to stop.
  • Has the ability to step outside and shoot, and can even extend out to the 3 point line (on rare occasions)
  • Handles the ball very well for his size - after securing rebounds, he can comfortably take a few dribbles to get in better position, or even start to lead the break.
  • Impressive dexterity / agility
  • Possesses all of the components to be an effective rebounder
  • Does a very good job blocking shots - using his length and displaying great timing
  • Upside – Size / Skill package that is very rare – has the potential.


  • Needs to better utilize his physical gifts and not avoid contact. He plays too finesse for someone with his physical tools.
  • Effort Level on a nightly basis is not where it needs to be.
  • Has a lackadaisical attitude – His head doesn’t always stay into the game and I question if he’s willing to put in the hard work necessary to reach his potential.
  • Conditioning – Tires quickly and will often times be seen gasping for air. Getting in better shape, which would allow him to play hard for longer stretches, is huge for his development.
  • Has a tendency to rely on his perimeter skills, rather than mixing it up inside.
  • Coach Cal seems to have a very short fuse with Cousins and gets down on him quickly, which raises question marks
  • Defensively, he needs to get more committed and do a better job moving his feet. He tends to struggle against smaller, quicker bigs.
  • Foul Prone – needs to do a better job avoiding picking up stupid fouls. Most fouls he commits are with his body, which he follows up with a look of disbelief, when it’s clear he committed the foul.


Let me start by saying that I think Cousins made the wrong decision on which college to attend, based on what I’ve seen thus far this season. First, Kentucky’s style of play is not conducive to allowing Cousins strengths to shine. Kentucky likes to play an up and down transition game and Cousins doesn’t run the floor very well, in the current shape he’s in. Additionally, Kentucky likes to spread the court and go one and one, rather than running any sets that focus on getting the ball into the post. They also don’t do a great job spacing the court, so that when Cousins does get the ball, he’s not given enough room to operate.

Secondly, John Calipari is a coach who doesn’t allow you to play through mistakes. Therefore, the moment Cousins makes a mistake, Calipari pulls him immediately. Instantly, Cousins loses focus, begins to pout and his body language becomes sluggish. He can even be seen arguing on the sidelines with Calipari – anything but staying focused in the game. Cousins appears to be very sensitive and someone that needs nurturing to help build his confidence which is clearly not Calipari’s style.

I’m not suggesting that Kentucky’s offense needs to transform (given the backcourt they have – they should push the pace), or Calipari isn’t making the right decisions, I’m just saying that there’s some contrast in style / personalities between Calipari and Cousins.

With all of that being said, Cousins is still extremely inconsistent. Depending on what night you watch him play, DeMarcus Cousins can either leave you very impressed, or wondering if he’ll be another player unable to tap into his potential.

The positive is that Cousins has a rare package of a phenomenal skill set, combined with his tremendous physical gifts. He is extremely talented, possesses outstanding hands, very agile and even has perimeter skills which are rarely seen in someone 6’11. His upside is huge.

On the flip side, Cousins is not in very good shape and thus his play appears lethargic. He isn’t making quick moves, he’s picking up stupid fouls, and he’s not dominating big men that he should have no problem manhandling. Getting in better shape to play hard for 30+ minutes a night, should be Cousins primary goal.

Additionally, he has a tendency to shy away from contact when he’s in the paint. He’s plays a very finesse style and sometimes falls in love with his perimeter skills. He needs to show toughness and prove that he can handle the physical demands of the NBA.

My Take:

Based on purely talent and upside, Cousins is one of the best players in the upcoming draft (should he choose to enter). Unfortunately, his inability to stay focused and his inconsistent play have also stood out. I don’t question Cousins desire because I truly think that he wants to be great, I’m just not sold on him putting in the work necessary. I also can’t comprehend how he’s not in better shape at this point in the season, having been at Kentucky for at least 5 months already.

However, Cousins is someone that I think is worth the risk/reward, because of his rare skill set / physical package combination. At this point, in the middle portion of the first round, I would highly consider Cousins. He has the ability to move higher on my draft board (TOP FIVE), but he needs to prove it with improved play on a consistent basis, before I would move him up.

Update: 2 /22:
In the two months since completing our scouting report on DeMarcus Cousins, his game has skyrocketed. There hasn’t been a player in college basketball that has had success guarding Cousins and he’s been a central figure in Kentucky’s 24 - 1 record. Equally impressive is that he seems to have improved his on-court relationship with Coach Calipari which has led to Cousins playing for longer stretches without having to look over his shoulder when he makes a mistake.

Cousins emergence has been primarily because he’s been playing to his strengths. Rather than hanging out on the perimeter, Cousins has been camped in the paint, using his size, frame and power to solidify low position. He’s done a great job sealing his defenders, which has led to his 55% field goal percentage. His skill level was never an issue and now that he’s developing a better understanding of how to utilize his physical gifts, he’s emerged as the best big man in college basketball.

There’s no question he still shows signs of immaturity and he raises a lot of red flags for his overall demeanor, but he’s also proved that he’s a Top 3 talent, when he enters this year’s NBA draft.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In the Spotlight: Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson
Position: Shooting Guard
Ht: 6-5, Wt: 220
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Class: Freshman
College: Cincinnati
DOB: 9/5/90

  • At 6’5, 220lbs, Lance is physically advanced with an NBA ready body (it’s actually too much muscle).
  • Scorer - Has the ability to completely dominate on the offensive end.
  • Great one-on-one skills, with an array of moves to take his man off the dribble… Exceptional cross-over (both left to right and right to left), hesitation move, and right in-and-out dribble.
  • Extremely versatile on the offensive end. Lance possesses the handle which allows him to play the point, the shooting touch to play the wing, and the strength to finish inside.
  • Fierce Competitor with a drive to be the best.
  • When Lance gets into the paint, he's very adept at using his body to fend off his defender.
  • Sees the floor well – displays solid court vision and is getting more comfortable setting up his teammates, as his trust level increases
  • Very confident player – Has a real swagger to his game.
  • Relishes big games / moments - he’s played with pressure since a young age, so the spotlight is nothing new for Lance. Seems to flourish when playing against other elite players and never shies away from guarding the opposition’s best player.

  • Body language and maturity are real concerns - When things aren’t going well his immaturity shows as he pouts and point’s fingers… show’s disgust.
  • Added muscle mass / bulk inhibits his agility and mobility on the court. This is a concern as Lance now lacks the foot speed necessary for the next level, on both ends of the court. Would benefit losing a few lbs which would help his explosiveness.
  • Has a tendency to over dribble and get caught up in a one-on-one battle… Needs to stay within the offensive flow, and when he’s attacking the basket just make a move and explode.
  • Moving Without the Ball - Must improve playing without the ball in his hands and remain effective.
  • Lance has to work on getting himself into position so that he can knock down the jumper on a catch and shoot. He’s much more comfortable shooting off the dribble, than spotting up. He needs to work on reading the defense and using screens to get free.
  • Has to improve his foot speed defensively. His lateral mobility isn’t where it needs to be, to guard much quicker 1’s and 2’s.
  • Needs to become more active on the defensive end – rotate from the weak side, helping out off the ball, creating deflections, etc. He tends to leak out to half-court looking to start the break.
  • Defensively, he’s always looking to switch and rarely is able to fight thru screens.
  • Transition Defense – Needs to get back on defense after he misses a shot, or turns the ball over. He has a tendency to compound a missed shot, by taking a few swipes for the ball to try and regain possession, rather than sprinting back.
  • Lance is not an extremely high flier.
  • Lance isn’t the most well spoken, polished kid off the court.

Lance is an extremely talented ball player and watching him play you can see how gifted an offensive player he is. At times, he can completely dominate the game, with his ability to create his own offense and score. He can take you off the dribble, shoot from deep, slash to the hoop, get out in transition, etc. It doesn’t take much for Lance to get going and he’s capable of putting up big scoring numbers on any given night.

One challenge for Lance is that over the past few years, Lance has not gotten any taller, but he’s continued to get stronger. Typically, filling out would be ok, as his body would be more ready for the contact of the Big East and ultimately the NBA – but for Lance it’s a problem. This added weight that Lance has put on, is limiting his quickness and explosiveness on the court. It makes Lance look much less athletic and someone lacking the burst to explode to the hoop. It’s great to have an NBA body, but not at such a high cost. Finding the right balance is crucial to his development.

Secondly, the thing about Lance that’s been well publicized is his immaturity. He has a tendency to let his frustration show with his terrible body language when a teammate fails to catch a pass, convert on an easy assist opportunity, when a call doesn’t go his way, or just mixing it up with an opposing player – there always seems to be something. Lance seems to be handling himself much better at the college level and he’s showing a willingness to be part of a team, which is very encouraging.

The emotion that Lance shows on the court, should also be looked at as a positive. If he’s able to channel this “fire” in the right way, you have as competitive a player as you’ll find. His drive, desire, and hunger to be the best are evident – it just needs to be applied appropriately.

My Take: It’s a wait and see approach with Lance, because at this point he does not have the lateral quickness to defend at the next level, or the explosiveness to be as effective in the NBA. If he’s able to find a comfortable playing weight that helps him get back some of the burst he once displayed, he would significantly improve his ability to produce at the next level. He has the offensive tools, but he needs to show improved elusiveness and better on the ball defensive skills before I would give Lance consideration in the top 25 picks of the 1st round.

Lance is someone worth closely monitoring throughout the season – both his body language and his progress…Because of his talent and his ability to score, he has the opportunity to greatly improve his draft status, which for me right now is as an early 2nd round selection.

* Lance reminds me a lot of Tyreke Evans in that neither player is ultra quick, or super athletic, but both know how to get to the basket and score. Lance is also a flexible guard that can play multiple positions, similar to the way Tyreke started his college career as a 2 guard and later transitioned to the point.