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
- Height: 6'9" without shoes; 6'9.75" in shoes
- Weight: 239 pounds
- Wingspan: 7'4"
- Standing Reach: 9'1"
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).
Fit in Phoenix
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.