The Safe Pick: Adreian Payne


Size, athleticism, skills, defensive ability, character, and the will to win.  These are qualities we want of every Laker player.  The hype of the 2014 draft has circled around Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Marcus Smart, Aaron Gordon, Dante Exum, Noah Vonleh, and John Randle.

Considering those names, any team would be fortunate to have any of them on their roster.

But the Lakers are a competitive team.  The Laker fans may be willing to tank the season, but that’s not necessarily the approach the Laker team is making.  It looks like the team is tanking, but they’re not.  It would be different if the team was deliberately sitting out healthy players.  Instead, there are six Laker players injured.  Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Steve Blake, Pau Gasol, Jordan Farmar, and Chris Kaman.  That is half the team.

So, it’s important to look deep into the draft and realize that a lottery pick may not be possible.  Maybe the Lakers don’t draft within the top 8.  Who is left?

Adreian Payne of Michigan State.

Dec 28, 2013; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans center Adreian Payne (5) drives to the basket against New Orleans Privateers forward Cory Dixon (4) and guard/forward Teris Bourgeois (31) during the 2nd half of a game at Jack Breslin Student Events Center. MSU won 101-48. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

There’s an excellent 17 minute scouting video done on him last year.  Click here: Adreian Payne of Michigan State.

Did you watch the video?  Do those weaknesses turn you off?  He has grown from last season.  Once at 215lbs., he’s now a legit 240lbs. and looks the part.  His 3-point shooting consistency is no joke and has carried into this year at a 45.7% clip on 3 attempts per game.  He’s no longer as turnover prone.  His assist-to-turnover ratio is now 1:1, which is good at the NBA level.  He’s able to read double teams more effectively, play both sides of the paint, has a perimeter range that Mike D’Antoni can stand by, rebounds, swats, and plays effective man-defense.

Think of him as a Vin Baker or LaMarcus Aldridge-type of player.  While not the most explosive athlete, he’s quick, strong, and runs the floor well.  He moves his feet surprisingly well considering how much strength he carries with him.  With a post game, ability to put the ball on the floor from the high post, solid 20′ range, ability to finish with either hand, defensive ability, and rebounding ability, he’s a self-made player who can turn into a cornerstone player that a team can stand by.  He has touch from the perimeter in catch-and-shoot situations, as well as off-the-dribble; simple, basic, effective, fundamental basketball.

Why is he projected so late in the lottery and into the late 1st round?  He has a game that isn’t spectacular.  He plays hard-nosed, tough, basketball.  Wiggins gets all of the dunks.  Parker looks great in isolation from the perimeter.  Embiid is oozing potential on both ends of the floor.  The thought is, because Payne is a 22-year old senior, that his upside his limited.  I disagree.

Players from the 80’s have improved throughout their careers.  Think Dwyane Wade was a freshman-turned-pro stud?  Alonzo Mourning?  Dikembe Mutombo?  How about C.J. McCollum now ready to play for Portland?

These guys are elite players.  McCollum will have a chance to prove himself.

Adreian Payne will have a chance to prove himself too.  I wouldn’t mind it if he did it in a Laker uniform.