Patrick Patterson Sidelined

Houston Rockets forward Patrick Patterson will unexpectedly be sidelined, after a MRI was performed Saturday morning.

The results were not favorable, as tests showed Patterson has a bone bruise in his right foot.

The brawny forward is averaging 13.2 points per game, along with 4.8 rebounds.  The physicality that Patterson possesses certainly doesn’t match the low rebound numbers, but his defensive significance is important to this young Rockets team.

While Patterson has yet to have a double figure rebounding game this season, he did have a strong offensive stretch in the final seven games of November.

Patterson and the Rockets coaching staff have tried to capitalize on his ability to stretch the floor this season, much like he did during his collegiate career with Kentucky. So far that experiment has been a work in progress. Patterson has already attempted 42 three pointers, and made just 14 of them.

During his absence, swing-forward Marcus Morris is expected to earn the starting nod. Morris had a strong offensive stretch in mid-November, and starting minutes may spark a similar performance.

Morris is currently a mystery for the Rockets. The goal is to maximize his potential, and the question is at what position? Is he a small forward, or a power forward?

The term “tweener” is frequently used now in basketball. While it’s a huge plus to have a versatile player, the certainty of what position the player can succeed in most, is always a battle. With Morris possibly seeing extending starting minutes, the answer may not be far.

The Rockets are also expected to recall Terrence Jones from D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, and expect him to be with the team for a matinee meeting tomorrow against the Raptors.

Patrick Patterson will go through additional tests in the coming days, no timetable for his return is set.

Sullinger, Jones And The Burden of Scrutiny

The smile on Jared Sullinger’s face was hardly indicative of the frustration he was experiencing upon being faced with the same health-related questions and criticisms he was hearing for the umpteenth time.

“Not really,” says Sullinger in response to whether reports of his back issues have been getting to him. “Most of [the reporters] have never even played the game before, so what can they say?”

One could argue that young NBA prospects have never been better prepared to endure the public scrutiny, attention and second-guessing that comes with their introduction to the pros. Of course, one could also argue that the degree of scrutiny, attention or second-guessing has never been higher.

Regardless, these are still young men in their early 20′s being forced to contend with a repetitive and often vaguely attacking line of questioning as they continue to position themselves ahead of next Friday’s draft.

On Thursday in Toronto, in what Raptors’ vice-president of basketball operations Ed Stefanski called “a real heavyweight workout”, Ohio State’s Sullinger showcased his abilities against Baylor’s Perry Jones III, Kentucky’s Terrence Jones and UNC’s John Henson. The common thread among all four is their status as prospective NBA big men.

But, at least in the case of Sullinger and Jones III, there is a common chip to be found on their broad shoulders.

Sullinger’s prickliness, in particular, was on display on Thursday, a surprise from a player with a reputation for being mild-mannered. But while some may be quick to chalk his moody, snappy disposition up to being an immature 20-year old, it may not be that simple.

Think about things from his perspective: you are coming off two successful years as the go-to guy with the Buckeyes and are now working towards draft day through continued battles with a group of rival power forward prospects while so many others shy away from competitive workouts. And yet, all you’ve encountered along the way is negativity – questions about your health, your draft stock, your decision not to go pro a year earlier and, ironically, reports of a potentially costly red flag from NBA doctors even as you participate in full contact drills.

Jones III, who has participated in several workouts already with Sullinger, can relate.

The athletic 6’11″ forward boasts a muscular physique and 7’2″ wingspan, prompting many observers to expect more out of him that what he displayed in two years at Baylor (13.7 points, 7.4 rebounds). Despite playing a critical role as a scoring and passing threat out of the post on two talented Bears squads that also featured Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller, questions about Jones’ motor were still rampant.

“I can’t worry about what’s being said about me or what people think I should do different,” says Jones. “[...] For me, it’s all about finding a way to block out a lot of what the critics are saying but, at the same time, also use it as motivation.”

Who’s to say that there isn’t any legitimacy to the criticisms being levied at this trio of prospects? It’s hard to see Sullinger’s injury reports being completely baseless and Stefanski wasn’t ready to extinguish the speculation when asked about the health of the former Buckeye (he would only say that “our doctors will look at everything”).

Meanwhile, the unpredictability of Jones, perhaps, best illustrated through the 20-year-old’s projected “Best Case / Worst Case” comparables on DraftExpress.com (best case: Rudy Gay / Josh Smith hybrid, worst case: Yi Jianlian).

At this stage, no one – not even Anthony Davis – is a sure thing. As with so many other drafts, there will likely be a player to fall through the cracks on account of over-evaluation.

If it turns out to be one of these men, it will represent yet another case of nitpicking taken too far.