Posted: 10:00 a.m. Monday, July 15, 2013
Like point guard, the starting spot at the small forward position appears to be pretty locked up. Senior Lamar Patterson will almost assuredly begin the season as the team's starter there and could also be the best player on the team.
Patterson is the team's leading returning scorer with ten points a game last season. He was a solid all-around player adding a handful of assists and rebounds per contest and is also a threat from three-point range. The biggest problem with Patterson, though, is that he didn't make much of an improvement last season. After a big summer league performance, I expected he would take a significant step forward and that never really happened.
He scored about the same number of points, and had fewer assists and rebounds. Hoisting up more than three 3-pointers a game, the fact that his percentage in that area dropped from 41% to 34% was considerable. And while he got to the free throw line more often in 2012-13, but made a lot less of his attempts, seeing his average dropping from 77% to 66%. Not only did Patterson not improve, you can make a good argument that he regressed. Still, he's the best option for Pitt here and without J.J. Moore backing him up, he'll be needed even more this season.
The biggest beneficiary when it comes to Pitt at small forward is Durand Johnson. J.J. Moore 's departure will open up a good bit of playing time and that will likely be filled by Johnson. He got a taste of playing time last year and provided a spark that many didn't expect. There's been a lot of talk about him playing at shooting guard, but as I've said before, I don't expect that to happen.
Along with Johnson there will be newcomer Jamel Artis. Artis can also play power forward and get minutes there, but I'm slotting him here for now. As with any newcomer, we don't really know what to expect out of him. One intriguing option might a redshirt and I'll have more on that later. If he does play, I don't know how much we'll see of him.
With Patterson and Johnson manning the position, this unit looks solid with two returnees.