Drafted by: Atlanta Hawks, No. 15 overall
School: Michigan State
Height/Weight: 6'10", 239 lbs
Age: 23 years old
Projected NBA Position: Power Forward
Pro Comparison: Poor man's Rasheed Wallace/Robert Horry
Twitter Handle: @Adreian_Payne
Michigan State star veteran Adreian Payne is one of the most appealing upperclassman prospects in the 2014 NBA draft.
As his collegiate career progressed, he proved to be a tremendous inside-out weapon for the Spartans, using his size to finish above the rim and his shooting touch to score from deep.
He'll take those talents to the Association as a dependable stretch 4, and his athleticism and energy are going to supply a huge boost to his club.
Payne might be older than most draftees, but he offers loads of value as a key frontcourt cog who can step right in and contribute.
|Statistics at Michigan State|
Length. Strength. Athleticism.
Check, check and check for Adreian Payne, who boasts some of the best physical tools in the entire draft class.
Payne moves really well for a big man, and he can get off the floor in a hurry to collect rebounds, elevate for buckets and block shots. His 9'1" standing reach and jumping ability also enable him to get shots off against the outstretched arms of defenders.
In the right offensive sets and defensive schemes, he'll make a lot of noise.
Payne is such a useful component of the lineup because he can do damage in the paint or keep defenses honest with efficient perimeter shooting.
His interior scoring isn't incredibly advanced or crafty, but he can put his back to the basket against favorable matchups and hit short turnarounds. The remaining points in the paint come via alley-oops, rebound putbacks and opportunistic slashes.
By his senior year, he developed nice range on his jumper, as he went 44-of-104 (42.3 percent) from distance. He possesses a confident, fluid shooting form that should serve him well throughout his career.
Although he's not a speedster or polished mid-range creator, he manages to effectively put the ball on the deck. He does this when defenders close out hard on him; he can pump-fake and drive with either hand toward the tin.
Whether it's pick-and-roll lobs, pick-and-pop jumpers or low-post bank shots, Payne is going to find offense during the flow of every game.
Hustle and Intangibles
Payne is a hardworking player who brings energy as a rebounder and defender, even if he could be more proficient in these areas.
He doesn't give up on plays, and even if a defender gets past him, he recovers for blocks and rebounds.
Payne is always looking to clean up the glass, and he's especially potent when players are late to box him out. When he's free, he springs up for crowd-sparking putback dunks.
This energy is also tied into his value as a good teammate and a great guy off the floor. Not only was he a solid locker-room guy at Michigan State, but his off-the-court bond with Lacey Holsworth showed that he's a nice person in general.
In other words, he's the kind of player that anyone would want on their team.
The biggest deficiency in Payne's game is his decision-making and ability to diagnose plays quickly.
DraftExpress video analyst Mike Schmitz explained that Payne is "an improved passer but still has a below-average feel," and he has "issues making quick swing passes, especially when defenders stunt at him."
Schmitz goes on to note that Payne doesn't have great lower-body strength, which costs him dearly when bruisers pound for position on post-ups or box outs. It also hurts Payne's chances of carving out position for his own low-post plays.
Lastly, his lung issues (small lung capacity) might become more of a problem at the next level. NBA games are longer, and the season is a grueling 82 games. Will he consistently struggle to keep his wind?
Payne is ready to use his awesome blend of size and skill to make an impact right away. We saw how energetic big men like Mason Plumlee can enjoy strong rookie campaigns, and Payne will be even more productive, given his shooting abilities.
Expect him to earn a critical role in the rotation and serve as a dependable stretch 4.
We're probably not going to see drastic development between now and Payne's prime, as he's already 23 years old. However, he could become sharper in his five-on-five passing and off-ball awareness and become a bit stronger and sharper defensively.
For the bulk of his career, he could be a sixth man or starter who scores in double figures, pulls down seven to eight rebounds and moves well defensively.
His efforts on the floor and in the locker room have all the makings of a standout role player on a playoff unit. We'll see if it comes to fruition.