Ailene Voisin, sports columnist

Joshua Cruey Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel Newly acquired Patrick Patterson, right, is considered a backup power forward who can space the floor with his perimeter shooting, set screens and improve the Kings' woeful defense both on the wings and in the interior. The rap on him is his rebounding average.

Ailene Voisin: Studious Patterson fits in fast with his new team

Published: Tuesday, Mar. 5, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Mar. 5, 2013 - 8:20 pm

Patrick Patterson describes himself as a movie fanatic who – gasp – enjoys doing homework. He earned a college degree in three years, for instance, by cramming extra courses and summer semesters into his basketball schedule. His interests are global and eclectic, and include reading a good book, playing video games, dissecting 1980s game tapes and evaluating films nominated for Academy Awards.

The son of retired Navy veterans, he is a combination of new age and old school. Hakeem Olajuwon is his favorite player. Quentin Tarantino is his favorite filmmaker. Though pleased that Tarantino won best original screenplay for "Django Unchained," Patterson was disappointed the film failed to win for best picture.

"Django," "Silver Linings Playbook" and then "Argo," the backup power forward said after his Kings home debut Sunday at Sleep Train Arena. "That was my list, in order."

Patterson, the key acquisition in the trade that sent rookie Thomas Robinson to the Houston Rockets, arrives with an intriguing portfolio that includes a close relationship with DeMarcus Cousins.

Patterson traveled extensively until his parents retired in Huntington, W.Va., when he was in middle school. He was a Cub Scout, a good student, a standout athlete and something of a local sports historian. He recalls being enthralled by stories about prep legends Jason Williams and Randy Moss, teammates who starred at a high school 50 miles away.

There is plenty more in the portfolio. There is his size (6-foot-9) and length. There are his considerable basketball skills. There is his reputation as a consummate pro. The Kings envision Patterson, 23, as a backup power forward who can space the floor with his deep shooting, set screens and improve the team's woeful defense both on the wings and in the interior.

The only rap on the Washington, D.C., native is a subpar rebounding average. Despite his long arms and lithe but powerful physique, Patterson averages fewer than five rebounds per game. In their introductory conversation, Kings coach Keith Smart immediately challenged the third-year pro to boost his numbers.

"He can be a much better rebounder," Smart said. "There's not a lot of wasted motion in what he does. And for a guy who had his best (season), to come to a team, and he's coming off the bench … that's a cause for moping, to be upset and mad. But he has come right in and said, 'Hey, whatever I need to do.' "

In his home-court debut against Charlotte, Patterson hit a three-pointer, had two rebounds and set several forceful screens in his 16 minutes, and he did not contribute to the Kings' habit of overdribbling and ignoring open teammates.

His presence in the locker room afterward was perhaps even more impressive: He aimed several playful but pointed jabs at Cousins, seated a few feet away.

"He's just a big baby," said Patterson, a junior during Cousins' only season at Kentucky (2009-10). "He shows that rugged face, that frown, but he's just a big kid."

Patterson went on to praise his teammate for continuing to reshape his physique, and suggested the center's improved conditioning has enhanced both his agility and stamina. Then, in a booming voice that carried throughout the room, he added: "You look like a grown baby over there! How about getting some abs?"

"I don't need abs," Cousins countered, while pinching his waist. "See?"

"Yes, you do!" Patterson insisted.

The banter continued for another five minutes. Patterson, teasing, smiling, unrelenting. Cousins, listening, grinning, not appearing offended.

"We called him 'Grandpa' at Kentucky because he was older than most of us," Cousins said, "and he gave me a lot of grief. He was always messing with me. But he kind of took me in, too. We did a lot of stuff together – dinner, movies. He'll be great to have around, and he's a good player. He can really help us."

The Kings didn't acquire Patterson so he could schedule play dates with the turbulent, immensely talented Cousins, but the locker room desperately needed a shake-up. Players on losing teams tend to be grouchy. And who knows? The brooding Robinson and the visibly discouraged Aaron Brooks, two recently departed Kings, might be invigorated and become more productive elsewhere.

But Patterson's upbeat personality already is a welcome addition. Though initially "shocked" by the trade and the reality of moving from a contender to a franchise with an evolving roster and an uncertain future, he is embracing his environment, eager to further his career.

"It's not a new start, not a new beginning," he said. "It's just playing basketball, and being on the team with guys I've known makes it easier." Call The Bee's Ailene Voisin, (916) 321-1208.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin, sports columnist

Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science from UNLV and a law degree from the University of San Diego before committing full time to journalism.

Her career includes stops at the San Diego Union, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and time spent as the backup beat writer for Dodgers and Angels, Clippers and NBA beat writer, sports columnist, along with numerous assignments covering international events and the Olympics. Ailene joined The Sacramento Bee in 1997.

Phone: 916-321-1208
Twitter: @ailene_voisin

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