With the way the Houston Rockets starting lineup is constructed the only position that isn’t for sure is power forward. This is Patrick Patterson’s third season but he’s not much better than he was in his first. The Rockets have a slew of younger power forwards with bigger upside who are just looking for opportunity to show they have what it takes to lock down the only job that is up for grabs.
Patrick is 6’9, 240 pounds and is built like a rock. The only problem is he has no fire in his belly. He doesn’t attack, he just settles. His defense is sub-par at best, but with a guy like Omer Asik next to you it’s easier to get away with average to below average defense. Patterson never goes up strong. He drives to the basket and puts up floaters as if he was Earl Boykins going up against Yao Ming.
Patterson has shown no signs of him improving to the point to where he is the man at power forward. This is exactly why the Rockets have drafted four power forwards in two years.
Marcus Morris is pretty much the same size as Patterson but has a wider range of offensive ability. He can post up, take you off the dribble, shoot from deep and drive to the hoop. He looked lost last season only because he was never given a legitimate shot. This year he finally got a chance to prove himself backing up Patterson and he has done more than expected.
Let’s compare Morris to Patterson so far this season. Patterson is averaging 11 points on 48% shooting, 5 rebounds and 1 assists in 29 minutes a game. Morris averages 10.5 points on 50% shooting and 40% from three and 5 rebounds in 21 minutes a game. Patterson is the starter and the veteran but barely averages more than Morris who plays 8 less minutes a game.
Morris is also a much better defender. At times he even went up against LeBron James when Miami came to town. He plays tough and doesn’t take crap from anyone. If you saw the game against the Lakers he went face to face against Dwight Howard. Patterson does not have that fire in his game and I don’t think he ever will. I think Patterson is more fit to play back up minutes.
Morris isn’t the only one gunning to take Patterson’s spot. Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas are also looking to take that spot. Motiejunas is in the D-League for now, but Jones recently got playing time against the Lakers where he posterized a player and showed he has what it takes to earn minutes even at just 20 years old.
I know fans are thinking the Rockets are looking to make a trade for a power forward, and maybe they are, but I think this has been slowed by the recent success Morris has showed. Terrence Jones also looks like a kid who can become a star in no time.
If Morris continues to play at this level while continuing to get better and Jones starts to earn minutes, Patterson could be on his way out. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Patterson gone at the trade deadline. We all know the Rockets are always involved in something.