5 players the Rockets passed on drafting who later became stars

LA Clippers Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LA Clippers Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Milwaukee Bucks Eric Bledsoe (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

4. Eric Bledsoe

The first round of the 2010 NBA Draft was loaded with Kentucky players, as they had five total players selected. With the 14th pick, the Houston Rockets selected one of those players in Patrick Patterson, who was one of the more tenured Kentucky players from that draft class.

Patterson burst onto the scene during his freshman season, as he was named to the Freshman All-American team, which also featured current Houston Rockets guards Eric Gordon and James Harden. During that season, Patterson averaged 16.4 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, which are numbers he would top as a sophomore.

During Patterson’s second season in Lexington, he scored 17.9 points and 9.3 rebounds, but took a back seat during his junior season with the additions of several star freshmen including John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. Another one of those freshmen was Eric Bledsoe, who played more of a shooting guard role at Kentucky, due to the presence of Wall.

Both Patterson and Bledsoe entered the 2010 NBA Draft, and were chosen 14th and 18th, meaning the Rockets selected Patterson when Bledsoe was still on the board. The Rockets ended up trading for several guards during Patterson and Bledsoe’s first season, as they acquired Terrence Williams, Jonny Flynn, and Goran Dragic.

All in all, Patterson spent three seasons in Houston, while having career numbers during his final season with the Rockets. During the 2012-13 season, Patterson averaged 11.6 points per game, which was his only season averaging double-figures in scoring. Patterson also made 36.5 percent of his treys during his final season in Houston, before being traded to the Sacramento Kings, in a trade that yielded Thomas Robinson, Tyler Honeycutt, and Francisco Garcia.

That season ultimately became Patterson’s only season scoring 10+ points, although he’s carved out a successful 10-year NBA career. Bledsoe also needed three years to fully unveil his abilities, as he was Chris Paul’s backup for two of those seasons.

Bledsoe was traded to the Phoenix Suns in 2013, and would spend each of the next four seasons in the desert, posting averages of 18.8 points and six assists during that span. It didn’t take long for Bledsoe to impress the Suns’ front office, as he inked a five-year deal worth $70 million after his first full season in Phoenix.

Bledsoe was later traded to the Milwaukee Bucks towards the start of the 2017-18 season, where he has really improved his level of play, especially on the defensive end. During the 2018-19 season, Bledsoe finished with the 19th-best defensive rating along with a defensive field goal percentage of 41.9 percent.

Although this landed him a spot on the First-Team All-Defensive team, Bledsoe has followed that up with an even better 2019-20 defensive season. The Alabama native has had a 41.2 percent defensive field goal percentage, and a top-seven finish in defensive rating this season.

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