Patrick Patterson — When the Houston Rockets recalled Patrick Patterson from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, he was ready to show them what his nine-game stint with the D-League had taught him. After Chuck Hayes went down with an injury, Patterson stepped into the rotation and hasn’t looked back.
New Years Eve, against the Toronto Raptors, he finished with the first double-double of his NBA career, scoring 15 points and collecting 10 rebounds while also adding a blocked shot and playing some solid defense. Two nights later, he pulled down 10 more boards. Most recently, he has topped double-figures in two of his last three games. While his season averages are low (5.6 points and 3.5 rebounds per contest), Rockets fans are beginning to see why their team used their 14th pick on him.
Perhaps the best part of Patterson’s situation is the maturity he has brought to his rookie season, looking at his D-League assignment as an opportunity to get some experience rather than a demotion. Talent and maturity — Patterson’s going to be alright.
DeMarcus Cousins — Cousins was on this list last week, but he deserves to be here again. Scoring 16 or more points in every game of 2011 thus far, Cousins is averaging 20 points per game over his last six contests. The hot streak he’s on has boosted his season numbers to 12.8 points and 7.7 rebounds, while his minutes per game keep climbing.
Against the Raptors on Sunday, Cousins had nine points through three quarters. He finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, going 4-for-5 in the final quarter while the rest of his teammates struggled to score without Tyreke Evans on the floor. In the absence of Evans, Cousins provides another reason to sit down and watch the Kings.
Jordan Crawford — While the Atlanta Hawks have talked about sending Jordan Crawford down to the D-League, he remains with the team. He also remains on the bench. For a guy who was such an integral part of Xavier’s success last season it has to be tough to be stuck on the sidelines this year.
Even with an injury to teammate Jamal Crawford, the rookie can’t seen to crack the rotation. Crawford played just one game in the month of December, eight minutes in a loss to the Celtics. In the new year, he has appeared in two of the last four games, but played less than four minutes in each. I’m of the belief that if you know you’re not going to have the minutes for your young guys, you need to be giving them a chance to play and get game experience somewhere. Improving isn’t always easy when your only “game action” comes during practice.
Sacramento @ New York: Friday, 7:30 pm ET — Once again the Kings get some match up of the week love from me. Blame it on Cousins, because that’s why a potentially Tyreke Evans-less Kings squad going up against the Knicks is one I’ll be tuning in to see. With him and surprise stud Landry Fields on the same court at the same time, this game is a great match up for rookie junkies. The Knicks have the steal of the draft in Fields, and really, any opportunity you have to watch Spike Lee rocking a rookie’s jersey from the sidelines of MSG, you take it.