By Andy Roth, Contributing Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - There's no place like home - unless it's Sacramento
It seems like leaving Sacramento can do wonders for a players' career. Just ask Patrick Patterson and Marcus Thornton, who were both traded by the Kings this season and have flourished in their new home.
Patterson was part of the seven-player trade in early December in which the Kings acquired Rudy Gay from the Toronto Raptors.
Prior to the deal, the fourth-year power forward was really struggling, averaging just 6.9 points and shooting only 41 percent from the field and 23.1 percent on 3-point attempts.
But since arriving in Toronto, he's arguably playing the best basketball of his career. In just over 23 minutes a game, Patterson is averaging 9.7 points and 5.2 rebounds, and is shooting 49.2 percent from the field and an impressive 43.9 percent from downtown.
He noticed early on in Toronto that the atmosphere and vibe around the team was totally different from Sacramento.
"It's just more positive energy," Patterson said shortly after the trade. "Everyone is more focused, everyone pretty much just believes in themselves and the team and what we can do.
"Whenever you string together wins, when you beat the top teams, people start believing in themselves and what's going on."
And he also liked the we-not-me attitude of his new teammates.
"We have great chemistry on this team, everybody's focused, nobody's selfish and most importantly, we have great leadership. Kyle (Lowry) takes the team on his back and guys like Amir (Johnson) who love doing dirty work, who don't get enough credit but still focus and work hard every single night, that rubs off on everybody on the team. Everyone's just embracing their roles."
Patterson has missed the last 10 games with a right elbow sprain and his presence has been sorely missed with the Raptors going just 5-5 in his absence.
As good as Patterson has been for the Raptors, it's hard to argue he's been better than his former teammate Thornton has been since being traded to Brooklyn.
The Nets are 11-4 since Thornton's arrival and his play has helped them close the gap to 1 1/2 games on the first-place Toronto Raptors in the Atlantic Division. The fifth-year shooting guard, who was dealt to the Nets for Jason Terry and Reggie Evans in mid-February, is averaging 11.9 points and shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from 3-point range in just 22 minutes per game with Brooklyn. He averaged 8.9 points in just over 24 minutes for the Kings, while shooting only 38.1 percent from the floor and 31.8 percent from downtown.
"It's been huge, man, it's been huge," Thornton said of the trade. "I'm starting to find myself again and get back to being the player that I was a couple of years ago."
Thornton has had four games in which he's scored at least 20 points coming off Brooklyn's bench and all of them have been Nets victories.
He had 25 points in 25 minutes against the Milwaukee Bucks, 20 points in 26 minutes against the Grizzlies, 27 points in 28 minutes against his former team, the Kings, and 20 points in 24 minutes against the Dallas Mavericks.
It's amazing Sacramento traded Thornton less than a month after he had a 42-point game against the Indiana Pacers, but that's probably why the Kings are a dysfunctional franchise.
GOODEN MAKING A STATEMENT
While new homes have done wonders for Patterson and Thornton, 11-year NBA veteran Drew Gooden is off to a good start with his new team, but he had to wait quite some time for the opportunity.
Gooden was amnestied by the Milwaukee Bucks in mid-July and remained unemployed until he signed a 10-day contract with the Washington Wizards in late February.
And he certainly hasn't looked like a guy who has been on the sidelines for a while, putting up 10.6 points and 5.6 rebounds in just 17 minutes a game with the Wizards, while shooting a blistering 57.4 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from 3-point range.
"Since I got in the league, I've been involved in a lot of business decisions (as opposed to) basketball decisions, so this is one of the hardest ones, having to come in with my body of work and having to sign a 10-day deal," said Gooden, who is still being paid on the five-year, $32 million deal he signed with the Bucks in 2010. "I would never have thought of myself having to do that. But that was the route I had to do, and so be it."
As Gooden has received more playing time under his belt, he's been even more effective. Over his last five games, he's averaging 16.6 points and 7.6 rebounds in just over 23 minutes while shooting 61 percent from the field.
Gooden is doing his best to send a message to the teams that rejected him.
"I've got a vendetta right now against all the other teams that overlooked me," he said. "I wanted to show them once I got an opportunity that I've got a passion and I love this game, and I wasn't going to go and leave my career like it was left last season in Milwaukee.
Not surprisingly, the Wizards signed Gooden for the rest of the season following his second 10-day contract.
03/26 12:03:40 ET