|NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Louisiana-Lafayette PG Elfrid Payton||05.13.14 at 9:00 am ET|
As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.
Position: Point guard
Weight: 190 pounds
Key 2013-14 stats: 19.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 2.3 steals
Scouting report: Despite growing up in the small town of Gretna, La., Payton beat the odds, possessing has all the tools necessary to be a classic pass-first point guard in the NBA. Payton makes all the right passes and consistently feeds the ball into the shooter’s pocket. He can pass and dribble equally well with both his right and left hand — an underrated talent. The 6-foot-4 guard has also demonstrated on-court leadership skills, as he does a tremendous job of quickly getting his team into their half-court offensive sets.
Payton’s knack for handling the ball will make him a quality playmaker in the pick-and-roll, since he doesn’t lose speed when changing directions and he’s able to get all the way to the rim without settling for floaters. Payton often struggled with contact at the rim, but that’s due to his lanky upper body; with a professional training staff guiding him, it’s fair to expect his success rate to increase.
However, Payton is a dreadful shooter and will need to spend extensive time with a shooting coach. He has poor footwork, he has a hitch on his release, and his elbow is almost always out, which leads to an obvious lack of confidence from the perimeter. And the stats support this, since he shot only 25.5 percent from behind the arc, 25.8 percent from mid-range and 60.9 percent from the line. But he is the youngest upperclassman in the draft, as he doesn’t turn 21 until next year, so he has plenty of time to improve his mechanics.
Payton also was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2013-14 after proving his ability as a tenacious defender. With terrific lateral quickness, a long wingspan and swift hands, Payton certainly will find a spot in the NBA as a role player. Point guards as efficient and reliable as Payton don’t go unnoticed, even if they can’t shoot worth a lick.
How he fits: Payton is a poor man’s Rajon Rondo. He can’t shoot, but he does everything else extremely well, including passing, rebounding and defending. However, the Celtics may prefer a point guard that can shoot, since Brad Stevens‘ motion offense calls for a spread floor, unless the C’s believe they can improve Payton’s shooting mechanics and production.
Grantland: Who’s That Guy? Louisiana’s Elfrid Payton!
WCHB Detroit: Elfrid Payton: The Underrated NBA Prospect That You Need to Become More Familiar With
Video: Here is a video detailing Payton’s progression as a player.