Free Agency is what counts
By standing Patterson in the NBA Draft, the Houston Rockets stay in the DwyaneWade chase
The Houston Rockets didn't get either of the Kentucky players that everyone wanted. Instead, they turned the 14th pick in tonight's NBA Draft into the third choice from Kentucky — forward Patrick Patterson.
But that's more than OK, considering the disaster the team avoiding by not mortgaging any future, legitimate hopes on a more-meaningless-than-ever draft. This is not the draft, not the summer, to be giving up anything to move up. Not if you're a team that fancies itself as at least a fringe contender (assuming that Yao Ming both resigns and stays healthy) like the Rockets. Not with true impact makers galore set to be free agents on July 1 — including stars the Rockets actually have a chance at in Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudemire and Chris Bosh.
Moving up — which Rockets owner Leslie Alexander actually talked about doing — would have meant at least three steps down.
The Rockets could not afford to give up any assets for a middling first round pick. All those pieces — from Chase Budinger to the eminently tradeable (and overrated) Aaron Brooks to even the difference-making Kevin Martin — need to stick around for general manager Daryl Morey to have as potential chips in any sign-and-trade deal that might be required to ultimately land a Wade, a Bosh or a Stoudemire.
Flexibility is the name of the game this summer.
Which makes Patrick Patterson such a safe, quality choice. Patterson is a 6-foot-9, 245-pound physical presence with a mere 5.6-percent body fat. While he's not close to John Wall or DeMarcus Cousins, his Kentucky teammates selected first and fifth overall respectively, ESPN college analyst Jay Bilas did call Patterson "a man" about 12 times in a 30-second analysis.
In an earlier interview, Bilas compared Patterson to "Coca-Cola stock" for his consistency and expected "solid return."
Analyst Fran Fraschilla — who is a little more realistic in his breakdowns of upperclassmen college players (Bilas loves anyone who stays around in the NCAA arena he earns his living from) — said that Patterson could help a team as a rotation (read bench) player. None of which changes the overriding truth: The Rockets won by not overreaching on a night that won't matter by mid July.