Name: Elfrid Payton Age: 20 School: Louisiana-Lafayette
Height: 6’4 Weight: 185 Projected Position: PG
19.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 5.9 apg, 2.3 spg, 3.6 tpg, 1.6:1 A/TO (35.9 minutes per game)
50.9 FG%, 60.9 FT%, 25.9 3FG%, 55.1 TS%, 52.4 eFG%
27.6 USG%, 3.6 STL%, 32.9 AST%, 17.2 TOV%, 9.4 TRB%
SKILLS & ATHLETIC BREAKDOWN
Payton is very good at getting into the lane off the dribble, either through being very patient or with a quick first step and speed burst. He is able to attack the basket well from either side, and he does a good job waiting for openings to develop. Payton doesn’t shy away from contact when he is in the lane, often looking to draw it, though he needs to work on hitting the short jumper or floater when the help arrives quickly. Payton is a strong finisher around the basket, able to use both hands well, and he has nice creativity and touch around the basket. He does a good job keeping his head up and seeing the defense when he gets into the lane, though he will try to force his way to the basket, and he is very good at finding open teammates when the help rotates. Payton does a good job attacking the basket off of screens, showing good acceleration and coming off them tight to leave defenders behind him or force switches.
Payton is a very good ballhandler with both hands, capable of going strong to his left or right. He has above-average control, keeps the ball low and close to his body, and makes strong moves to the basket. However, he has shown a tendency to get a little loose with the ball when he is in traffic, and he needs to be more careful of knowing where defenders are around him. Payton has a strong hesitation dribble, as well as good crossover and spin moves. Payton needs to continue to improve using his dribble more effectively to make space for his jumper. Payton sees the floor well, and he can be very patient waiting for plays to develop. He can find teammates when he draws help defenders off of penetration, though he needs to make some decisions quicker. Payton is tough to keep out of the lane in isolation, and he will often pass up screens to avoid bringing another defender into the area. Payton makes good reads in pick-and-roll situations, though he needs to work on making them quicker and relying less on just using the screen to get to the basket. Payton was one of the better guards I saw this year at throwing strong post-entry passes, especially getting the ball to his teammates in spots where they can make a strong, quick move. Payton handles pressure well, and he is also very good at seeing the floor and knowing where his options are to pass.
This is the biggest area where Payton needs to put in work. He does a good job getting square to the basket and into his shooting motion quickly, but the motion itself can be very disjointed, especially in his arms. His shooting motion can also be very straight-armed and it can look like Payton is almost pushing the ball rather than shooting it. Payton uses screens well to set up his jumper, as well as using his dribble to create space. Payton moves well without the ball, using screens and cuts to get open, and he is very good getting low going around screens to prevent defenders from staying with him. His shot selection is generally good, especially from the perimeter, though it would help if he could hit the shots consistently to prevent defenders from playing off him.
Free Throw Shooting
Payton is a below-average free throw shooter, having many of the same problems he has with his jumper. His shooting motion isn’t very fluid, often looking like he is pushing the ball towards the basket, rather than shooting it. Payton got to the free throw line at a very good rate, shooting over 300 free throws on almost 500 field goal attempts. He is very good at luring defenders off their feet once he gets into the lane, and he has no problem absorbing contact.
Perimeter Defense (On/Off Ball)
Payton is a very good on-ball defender, positioning himself well between his man and the basket, and having excellent lateral movement, even over longer distances. Payton will look for chances to force his man to his weak side, and he anticipates and reacts well to his man’s movements. He is an active defender, often coming out to defend his man near the half-court line to force them into decisions quickly. Payton likes to take chances at the stealing the ball in isolation, but he has the foot speed and balance to recover if he misses. Payton is also very good off the ball and in trap situations, where he seems to bounce easily between his man and help position. One area where Payton needs to work is getting through screens, both on and off the ball, especially getting over the top when he needs to and not relying on switches. Off the ball, Payton generally positions himself well, and he has a very good sense of spacing between his man and his help position. He is a very good help defender, and he is very good at luring offensive players into bad spots with the ball. His defensive awareness is very good, and even when he makes a mistake, he recovers quickly. He sees the floor well, tracking the ball and his man, and he can help get his teammates in position when needed. Payton is very good at playing passing lanes and he does a good job anticipating and getting a break on passes that he can pick off.
Payton is a very good rebounder for his size, tracking the ball well and using his speed and athleticism to beat others to the ball. No matter where he is on defense, you will almost always see Payton head towards the glass, looking for paths around much bigger players. He is quick after the ball and he has no problem getting a bit physical with other players to grab a rebound. On the offensive end, Payton is quick to follow his own missed shots, and when he does get an offensive rebound around the basket, he is very quick at getting a good second attempt off, or at least drawing contact.
Payton is very good in the open floor, using a speed burst to beat defenders down the court, or using patience and setting up teammates well. His decision making is above-average, though he will sometimes look to force plays that really aren’t good choices. Payton is very good at attacking the basket in transition and he uses very good body control to weave through defenders. One area he needs to improve is his ability to stop and hit the mid-range jumper off the dribble if the defense collapses to prevent penetration.
Payton didn’t disappoint this year after gathering added attention by playing on the USA’s Under 19 Team in the FIBA World Championships last summer. His strength is creating off the dribble, both for himself and for teammates, and he is very tough for many defenders to stop in isolation. Payton is a strong finisher around the basket, and can do so in a variety of ways. He is a strong ballhandler with good vision and passing ability, but he is also very good at finishing, or drawing contact, around the basket. His jumper needs work, especially his shooting motion, but he is so tough to keep out of the lane, that he never really needed to rely on it. Payton is a pest on defensive, able to pressure the ball or contain his man, and his lateral movement and reaction time is very strong. He rebounds very well for his size, and he has no problem getting involved in anything on the floor that will help his team. Payton has a very good basketball IQ, and showed better awareness on both ends of the floor this year. He is a strong team leader and it is very easy to see his enthusiasm for the game as he plays.
Draft Value – Mid 1st – #12-18
I consider Payton to be the #2 point guard in the class behind Marcus Smart, and though people seem to be talking about him more, I think many are still hesitant to move him up because they don’t know a lot about him. He can come in pretty quickly and be a strong distributor and defender, while also working on being able to create shots for himself and teammates. His perimeter shooting won’t improve over night, but I think once he gets that jumper working consistently, people will be able to see what he can really do on offense. He helps his team on the floor in every aspect, and it’s hard to find any system which he couldn’t adapt to. Even in the middle of the 1st round, he could end up being a steal.
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