This will be the second time I cover Rockets third-year forward Patrick Patterson in the last week, as he was also discussed in my waiver-wire column Friday. In all honesty, his recent play probably demands even more talk than that, as he has been in the midst of a major breakout over the last few weeks.
The former lottery pick out of the University of Kentucky is starting to live up to his potential, thanks in large part to the addition of two dynamic ball-handlers in Jeremy Lin and James Harden this offseason. Patterson has thrived thanks to the attention Lin and Harden draw, and it is not difficult to see why once you dig into his numbers.
The Rockets' fast-paced offense (94.9 possessions per game -- tops in the league) puts Patterson in great position to succeed on a regular basis. He is scoring the majority of his points in transition, on off-ball cuts, offensive rebounds and as the screener in the pick-and-roll game. Patterson has attempted 82 of his 168 field goals in those specific type of plays, according to MySynergySports.com, and he is shooting 64.6 percent on those attempts.
The Rockets are getting him the ball in spots where he can score efficiently, and their fast pace leads to a ton of opportunities. As a result, he is averaging a career high 14.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. The Rockets play three times in Week 6 (Dec. 3-9), with games against the Lakers, Spurs and Mavericks. Each team ranks among the seven fastest teams in the league, so the Rockets should be involved in some track meets. Patterson could continue scoring rather effortlessly in the coming scoring period.
Ben Gordon, Bobcats (POR, NYK, @MIL, SAS): Gordon's scoring has been in decline for the last few years, but he seems to be regaining his touch in Charlotte. It helps that the Bobcats are playing at a furious pace this season, which allows each of their three score-first guards to get the opportunities they need. Gordon has scored at least 19 points in three of the last four games, and faces a pretty easy schedule in Week 6. With the exception of a Wednesday matchup against a grind-it-out Knicks defense, the Bobcats face three teams that either struggle to defend or like to play at a fast tempo as well. He is scoring 13.9 points per game, and he played at least 25 minutes in five of the last six games, so expect his scoring to hold up.
Gary Neal, Spurs (TOR, HOU, @CHA): Spurs role players are an inherently volatile commodity, as coach Gregg Popovich has a proven track record of being unpredictable with his rotations. Neal played 30 minutes or more just once in the team's first eight games; in seven games since, he is averaging 28.6 minutes per game. He has seen his scoring increase along with his minutes, averaging 11.2 per game over that span. The Spurs face three teams in Week 6 that rank in the bottom 10 in defense, which could mean plenty of opportunities for Neal and the Spurs' second team as they will try to jump out to big leads early.
Sleeper Alert: Doron Lamb, Bucks (@NOH, @SAS, CHA, @BKN): Lamb might have gotten a boost Friday night, after Bucks backup point guard Beno Udrih suffered a sprained ankle and was forced from the game. Lamb has seen more minutes over the past week already, and an injury to Udrih would only open chances up. Lamb has played 15 minutes or more in three games in a row, and has already produced his three best scoring games as a result. Granted, he is averaging just 7.3 points in those games, but you can see the raw scoring ability already. Milwaukee faces three subpar defenses in a row to begin the week, so if Lamb's minutes increase, he could provide a scoring boost.
Andre Miller, Nuggets (TOR, @ATL, @IND, @NYK): Miller has been a paragon of consistency in the NBA throughout his career, but the 36-year-old seems to be reaching the end of the road. Miller is averaging a career low 8.3 points and 5.1 assists per game, and his production has cratered recently. Miller has scored in double figures in just one of the last five games, and has been limited to just 4.0 assists per game. The Nuggets face three top-10 defenses to finish the week, and all three like to slow down the pace. That bodes poorly for a player who derives much of his value from racking up assists in bulk.
Eric Bledsoe, Clippers (@UTA, DAL, PHX, TOR): The internet continues to plead with Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro to give Bledsoe more playing time, but he still remains a bit player. Bledsoe has been a per-minute terror this season, averaging 9.7 points in just 18.5 minutes per game, but he does not look likely to see an increased role moving forward. If anything, the return of Chauncey Billups on Wednesday will likely lead to even fewer minutes for Bledsoe, as Billups gives them a more reliable option than previous starter Willie Green. The Clippers have some decent matchups on the way, but Bledsoe is likely to be stuck in a reserve role.
Bust Alert: Darren Collison, Mavericks (@LAC, @PHX, @HOU): Collison got off to a monstrous start this season and made the Pacers look foolish for picking George Hill over him this offseason. He has slowed down in a major way recently, falling so far that he was actually benched for Dominique Jones before suffering a sprained finger. Collison's injury is not considered serious, but his up-and-down play this season prompted the Mavericks to add Derek Fisher this week, reportedly with the intention of starting him. Collison should be able to prove his worth over Fisher before long, but the reduced role should leave Fantasy owners wary of relying on him in the short term.
Jason Thompson, Kings (TOR, ORL, @POR): The Kings signed Thompson to a big extension this offseason, but they also managed to get even younger and presumably more talented in the frontcourt with the selection of Thomas Robinson in the draft. We assumed that Thompson's role would slip as a result, however he has surprisingly seen an increase in his minutes played. Thompson is averaging 31.1 minutes per game, the second-highest total of his career. As a result, he is contributing 11.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. The Kings face a trio of subpar defensive front courts in Week 6, so Thompson should be able to continue his resurgence.
Jeff Taylor, Bobcats (POR, NYK, @MIL, SAS): Taylor has surprisingly made a name for himself on a shockingly competent Bobcats team, after being a second-round selection out of Vanderbilt. Taylor has shown off a solid three-point stroke, and he has gone supernova over the last week; after going 2 of 4 Friday from long range, he is shooting 57.9 percent over his last five games. He is averaging 12.0 points per game in that span, while playing 30.8 minutes. The Bobcats have just one tough matchup this week, so consider utilizing him, even if his shot regresses a bit.
Sleeper Alert: Steve Novak, Knicks (@CHA, @MIA, @CHI, DEN): There aren't many one-trick ponies with a trick as reliable as Novak's. He has made just seven two-pointers on the season, but he drains 2.3 three-pointers per game at a 42.6 percent success rate. He won't give you much across the stat sheet, but Novak has a chance to fill up the three-point column in Week 6. With the exception of Chicago, each of New York's upcoming opponents ranks in the top six in the league in three-pointers allowed.
Dorell Wright, 76ers (MIN, BOS, @BOS): Philadelphia seemed like a perfect opportunity for Wright, a dead-eye three-point shooter on a team that was going to build their offense from the perimeter in without Andrew Bynum. Unfortunately, he seems to have lost out in the battle for minutes, having been limited to fewer than 20 in seven of the last eight games. Wright's shot has been nonexistent, which hurts any potential value he can bring. With matchups looming against a top-10 defense in Minnesota and a pair against an always-tough Boston team, don't plan on relying on Wright.
Elton Brand, Mavericks (@LAC, @PHX, @HOU): In years past, the only thing that could stop Brand were the chronic injuries that hampered him throughout his Philadelphia career. In his first year in Dallas, however, he has been a shell of his former self, despite being healthy. Brand is rebounding the ball well, but has been unable to figure things out offensively, scoring 93 points on 93 attempts. He has lost his place in the starting lineup over the last week, and is averaging just 6.0 points and 5.8 rebounds in 19.2 minutes over the last five games. The usually-reliable big man might be reaching the end of the road after a long NBA career, and is not worth starting until he turns things around.
Bust Alert: Caron Butler, Clippers (@UTA, DAL, PHX, TOR): A 33-point explosion against the Hornets Monday has obscured an extended stretch in which Butler has been practically invisible. Butler has scored 84 points over the last 10 games, with 33 coming in that one night; he is averaging 5.7 points per game otherwise. Butler has seen his shots and minutes fall off in his second year as a Clipper, as the team has grown deeper. Butler has scored in double figures just once in the past six games, so Fantasy owners should not take the chance on an ice-cold player.
Andray Blatche, Nets (OKC, GSW, MIL): Blatche has gone from being dismissed by the woeful Wizards for being out of shape to playing a key role on a likely top-four playoff seed, a transformation that only the most optimistic Nets fans likely saw coming. He is averaging 9.4 points per game, and did a solid job filling in for Brook Lopez Wednesday and Friday as he dealt with a foot sprain. Lopez might not be back in time for the entirety of Week 6, so Fantasy owners might want to use Blatche as an injury fill in.
Sleeper Alert: Andre Drummond, Pistons (CLE, GSW, CHI, @CLE): We knew the lottery pick was going to be raw offensively, so the fact that he is averaging just 5.4 points in 20.2 minutes per game over the last five games comes as little surprise. What has been nice to see has been the way Drummond has attacked the glass and found other ways to get his name in the box score. Drummond earned a reputation as a player with a motor that came and went in college, so his aggression has been a welcome sight. Drummond has gone after boards with abandon recently, averaging 9.4 rebounds per game over the last five, despite limited minutes. If you can live with a poor scorer in the lineup, Drummond has found other ways to be productive.
Spencer Hawes, 76ers (MIN, BOS, @BOS): Hawes has been so bad this season that he has reached the point where he is only worth using against good matchups. He has been slowed by some knee soreness, but that hardly explains why he has scored in double figures just twice in the last 10 games. Even though Andrew Bynum might not play until after the All-Star break (if he does at all – nobody really knows), Hawes needs to be reserved against tougher opposing front lines. Minnesota and Boston would qualify, as Minnesota has taken a big leap forward defensively and Boston gave Hawes fits a year ago. He averaged just 7.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in nine games against the Celtics a year ago, so two matchups on back-to-back nights certainly do not seem favorable for Hawes.
Bust Alert: Javale McGee, Nuggets (TOR, @ATL, @IND, @NYK): McGee is still being started in 41 percent of CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues, and at this point it's not entirely merit based. While he has scored in double-figures in three straight games, he is still averaging just 9.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game over the last five. Nobody can deny McGee's raw physical abilities, but his lack of awareness on the floor continually dooms him to fewer minutes than he might otherwise deserve. He has struggled to stay on the floor for Denver, and Week 6 does not look like a good opportunity for him to break this pattern. After a warm-up against the hapless Raptors, McGee faces three top-10 defenses in a row. His lagging production is not worthy keeping in the lineup against tougher opponents.