The NBA loves big men who can shoot, and Adreian Payne is among the best stretch fours in the 2014 NBA Draft. How might he fit in Phoenix?
School: Michigan State
Position: Power Forward
Did not participate due to mono, which he has been suffering from and playing through for a while. However, we don't need a combine test to know he can jump really high.
Payne was not a shooter when he arrived at Michigan State, and attempted just three 3-pointers in his first two college seasons. However, he added the 3-ball to his game as a junior (16-42) and honed it into a real weapon as a senior (44-104). He is a stretch four with a reliable jumper out to the 3-point arc.
He has a bit of a slow release due to a big dip on his gather, but the form is consistent with the same release point and a smooth motion. He's not quite the catch-and-shoot threat that Channing Frye is with his high, quick release and ability to shoot over defenders, but defenses will have to respect his shooting prowess.
Payne made 1.4 3-pointers per game at a 42 percent clip, and he can be a very dangerous shooter as a trailer in transition. He's a good shooter, but his 3-point stroke is only a supplement to his game - not his main strength. I also believe his release could get quicker with some work, especially with the Suns.
Payne has good touch around the basket with multiple post moves including a hook shot. His long arms and ability to elevate allow him to finish over the top of the defense. His shooting touch is evident in the post as well, as he favors turn-around and fadeaway jumpers in the post at times. Though he is skilled, his weak base makes it difficult for him to secure good post position near the basket against stronger players.
"You don't just want a stretch four guy that does nothing but shoot the ball. You want a guy that can go in the post some and play inside. And if teams want to play a smaller four, they can punish them inside. I think Adreian can do both of those things."
Payne brings a lot of versatility with his physical ability and skill level.
He doesn't have as quick of a release as Frye, but he is capable of putting the ball on the ground once or twice to either get to the rim or hit the pull-up jumper, meaning it will be difficult for opponents to close out on him without getting blown by. He has good touch on his pull-up jumpers and his shots around the rim and is explosive as a finisher.
As a senior, his usage percentage shot way up while his offensive rating stayed consistent. His assists also went up, but his turnover rate is a bit higher than you would like.
Overall, Payne's ability to score in several different ways from different spots on the court is what makes him a valued commodity in this draft.
Payne is a solid yet unspectacular rebounder. He has a good motor to pursue rebounds, and his length and athleticism allow him to come down with balls in traffic and make a play on the ball even when he doesn't have great position. His lack of strength means he can get cleared out too easily at times.
He probably doesn't grab as many boards as his physical tools should allow him to. He is a respectable seventh among first round forward and center prospects in defensive rebound percentage (behind Noah Vonleh, Joel Embiid, Kyle Anderson, Julius Randle, Mitch McGary and Jabari Parker) at 22.9 percent, but is only 11th on the offensive end at 6.8 percent..
Payne should be able to hold his own, especially on the defensive glass, but don't expect him to be a double-double guy.
Payne isn't terrible by any means, but he isn't a great defender at this point either. His hops and long arms help him as a shot-blocker, but oddly enough his blocks dropped every season in college down to just 0.9 per game as a senior. His somewhat weak base can make it difficult for him to hold his ground in the post at times.
His bigger problem, though, is a lack of awareness. His understanding of and feel for the game on the defensive end isn't where it needs to be. He can get turned around, lose his man, fail to make the right rotation and end up just lost at times defensively.
Payne needs to continue to get stronger an work on his defensive fundamentals, and he's really going to need to be coached up, but he has the tools to be an effective defender, if not a game-changer.
Payne's steady progression year-to-year shows he is a hard worker who is willing to do what it takes to get better. He really rounded out his offensive game and can score at all three levels - behind the arc, from mid-range and in the paint. His versatility as a scorer means he will make his primary impact on the offensive end of the floor, but he has the tools to at the very least hold his own on the boards and defensively.
"Adreian is a nice combination of a guy that can step out and make shots on the perimeter. He moves his feet very well for a guy that size. He's pretty long as well but also wiry strong. I think he's best at facing the basket right now, but he's a guy you can see developing a back to the basket game as well. Obviously there's more room for improvement between 19 and 23, but there's a lot of guys that are pretty good players at 23 already, and he's one of them. You could draft a 19 year old guy who has the potential to be as good as him in four years, and the guy might never get there. He might never do what Adreian Payne has done. In terms of next years' Suns team, where we were a game away from the playoffs this year, it's easier to see a guy like that coming in and playing fairly early in his career."
- Suns GM Ryan McDonough
Payne is a high character player who has already faced and overcome a lot of adversity.
However, Payne is 23 years old and may not have much room for improvement left. Even more troubling, his lungs are smaller than they should be for a man of his size, which means he has problems with his stamina and playing at a high level for extended stretches. This could be part of the reason he doesn't rebound at a higher rate. This is something that I have no idea how to evaluate, but if the Suns pass on Payne my guess is his lung issue will have a lot to do with it. As our own Sean Sullivan noted, he struggled to make it through the Suns workout (though he is still recovering from mono as well).
Payne's skill set makes him a natural fit in Phoenix's system. He can step outside and space the floor for Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe to penetrate, but he can serve as the roll man in the pick-and-roll and score inside as well when need be. He is a bit of a hybrid of Channing Frye and Markieff Morris, except he has freakish length and athleticism as well. Payne believes his versatility should allow him to fit in anywhere.
"I feel I can fit a bunch of styles of the NBA because I'm versatile and I can play inside out. I can bring a lot of things. I can guard different positions, block shots, and be a presence of the floor."
- Adreian Payne
Payne might be my favorite non-Doug McDermott, non-top 8 prospect for Phoenix in this draft. If Payne isn't red-flagged because of his lungs, I'd be hard pressed to find a player that combines fit, talent and need at 14 or 18 as well as Payne.
Archie's just a kid!
After working out Travis Wear and Kyle Anderson from UCLA, Justin Cobbs from Cal and Mike Moser from Oregon, GM Ryan McDonough said Monday "felt like a Pac-12 All-Star game." Oh, if that were only a thing. Oh my god it is a thing.
A power forward?? Kevin Love's a power forward!!
The Kevin Love to anywhere conversation has reached a fever pitch. No one more deftly realizes that he could unintentionally speculate as to Love's plans and then deflects than Ricky Rubio. He had this conversation on a string.
We have to remember that Archie Goodwin is a teenager, and mistakes will happen. Mistakes like disorderly conduct. Mistakes like resisting arrest. Mistakes like skating rinks in Little Rock, Arkansas. Reports that the police department is investigating the victim for flopping are unconfirmed.
University of Arizona guard Nick Johnson is "happy to be home." Though I'm sure he'd be just as happy in Atlanta, Boston, Oklahoma City, Orlando or Toronto if it meant comboguarding for big bucks. He can thank those practices with Rex Chapman as an 8 year old.
For those concerned with veteran leadership and a vocal leader for the Suns, Shawn Marion doesn't seem opposed to another season in Phoenix. He refuted early reports that he would like to retire as a Maverick. He said he'd like to retire in Dallas after his playing days. Obviously after he's won another ring with the Suns.
While you sleep forces are conspiring to make your live Phoenix Suns experience more expensive.
I hope Alvin Gentry and Tyronne Lue took the same flight. I hope they tried to outdo one another with the, "oh you'd be great for that job" routine.
The Gorilla did some good. I'm sure the dancers helped even more.
The Bright Side of the Sun writing staff is nearly doubling in size! Check it out.
Remember when I posted an article about 10 days ago asking for new writers for Bright Side of the Sun? I mentioned that I only needed 1 or 2 new contributors because we already have eight contributors on staff besides myself.
Our current All-Star cast of writers includes Sean Sullivan, Kris Habbas, Sreekar, Mike Lisboa, Scott Howard, Jacob Padilla, Jim Coughenour, Bryan Gibberman and East Bay Ray.
Adding 1 or 2 writers? Well, apparently I was aiming really low.
I got 26 requests to join the staff and most of you wrote at least one fanpost as your official application for the job. I am floored. Everyone knows its a non-paid endeavor, yet still you want to join the staff. That's incredibly awesome.
After whittling down the applicants on various measures -- current and past fanposts, other experience (blogging elsewhere before) and other skills (school) -- I decided I can't just add 1 or 2 new writers.
Almost every person on the current staff has a regular, full time job or is going to school or both. We don't have time to be as creative as we want, so I decided it's time to expand the team and let everyone have their own niche. Less pressure, more creativity, more fun!
Here's the list of new writers, along with their primary focus:
With all these new writers, we might have to rename the site to 'Bright Side Plus!'
**Bright Siders, help me talk Austin into managing this year's BRIGHT SIDE COMMUNITY MOCK DRAFT! It's a lot of work, as Sreekar knows from last year, but it's a ton of fun.
How do you accommodate a plethora of talented scorers...?
Sacrifice is a concept that is talked about a lot for professional athletes when it comes to the betterment of the team as a whole. It is an easy thing to talk about, as a theory, but in execution sacrifice is tougher than meets the eye. Not all professional athletes have the capacity to set aside individual preference for group cohesion.
Again, not every professional has that capacity.
To defend those that cannot do this for a minute, could you? How easy you shift the way you have done things from as long as you could remember doing them? Oh, and you were always the best at what you do at your school, job, team, or general environment.
Not as easy as it may seem on the surface.
Every now and then there is an opportunity for a team to be great based on the individual parts collected, but those parts have to figure out how to play with each other. If you have multiple engines, while that is great in theory, that is not a functional vehicle. A few of those engines needs to become a wheel or another functional component of the vehicle.
When Chris Bosh went to the Miami Heat he went from 22.8 points per game, 9.9 rebounds per game, and 15.9 shots per game in 37.6 minutes as the best player not only on his team, but in an entire country.
He dropped to 17.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 13.0 shots per game in 34.1 minutes as the universally accepted third banana role in Miami.
All the numbers take a dip, but trading in three shots, two rebounds, and six points a night for four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals with the potential of a third ring. Are headlines and stats the most important determining factor for success?
On this year's Mercury team every player has to fall into a niche and become a part of the machine. For DeWanna Bonner it is taking advantage of her length, size, and quickness on the court to become the defensive stopper that the Mercury has never had. This has always been about the offense. Bonner can score. No one will question that after Bonner put up 20.3 points per game in the injury filled 2012 season and 14.5 points per game the next year next to Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner. She can get buckets as needed.
"It's fun and I enjoy playing defense," Bonner on her new role. "I have my teammates back there helping me out back there. She (Coach Brondello) told me that is what I need to focus on so that is what I am focusing on."
Bonner's niche so far has been assertive, aggressive defense on the perimeter against the opponents' best offensive weapons. From Sue Bird to Alana Beard to Odyssey Sims to Kayla McDaniel they have all had their worst nights of the season against the Mercury, and their new defensive weapon.
With the scoring and offense flowing through Taurasi and Griner out to the three-point shooters leaving Bonner limited play-making responsibility.
Once the offense clicks to the highest level and there is a more defined role for Bonner on that end she is tasked with being the team's defensive catalyst. A role she has accepted with a smile.
"I score when I need to, but on defense, that is where we were lacking a little bit the past few years," Bonner the transition. "That is definitely my focus this year."
With her skill level on the offensive end Bonner could be a 20+ point scorer on half the teams in the WNBA today. She is that good on that end, which further emphasizes her commitment and excellence so far on the defensive end. Full-court, end-to-end, and against any type of offensive talent Bonner has risen her game to that next level on the defensive end. She has shown flashes of being a great defender and consistently been a very good defender since the opening tip of the season.
Where Bonner and Bosh sacrifice on the offensive end they make up for it on the defensive end and in winning in the game of basketball. That is what makes a great team and a great teammate.