Commentary

Patterson set to rise up ranks

A look at three players moving up (and three moving down) ESPN's player rankings

Updated: September 16, 2011, 10:04 AM ET
By Kevin Pelton | Basketball Prospectus
LeBron JamesVictor Baldizon/NBAE/Getty ImagesPatrick Patterson, shown here defending LeBron James, is likely to build on his strong rookie season.

Ranking players is an extremely difficult task in terms of looking forward, considering how fluid an NBA player's career can be. Injuries to them or the guys in front of them, coaching changes, or midseason trades/acquisitions have huge impacts on how a player is going to produce. Naturally, production is the best way to rank players, so there is the problem.

Ignoring the old guys who earned a top-400 ranking simply based on name recognition (guys like Francisco Elson, Theo Ratliff, Jamaal Magloire and Jerry Stackhouse), there are guys in the 220-260 range of ESPN.com's Player Rankings who look primed to jump up the list or fall out of it.

Let's take a quick look at the prime candidates to make a major move up or down.

Moving up:

No. 260 -- Patrick Patterson, PF, Houston Rockets
Patterson's breakthrough already started during the second half of his rookie season. After playing just 40 minutes total in November and December, Patterson became a fixture in the rotation after the All-Star break. In March and April, Patterson averaged 8.9 points and 5.3 rebounds in 22.0 minutes a night.