Going along with the topic of drafts that has captivated the sports world as of last night, I thought, why not explore the NBA draftees and see who fits well with the Oklahoma City Thunder? While some big man offense would work nicely with distributing the offense, three point shooting has been a need in Oklahoma as well. And as I browsed through the options, I came across a player that I loved to watch. On and off the court, Adreian Payne has done outstanding things, and he is a player that the Thunder cannot pass on.
Adreian Payne is the epitome of efficiency. He is a 6'9'', 215 pound forward who can hit a three. At Michigan State in his senior year, Payne averaged 23 points per 40 minutes, shooting 52 percent from the field and 42 percent from behind the arc. In Tom Izzo's offense, Payne was utilized in a variety of different sets. He took spot up shots, posted up, ran the pick and roll, and even isolation. What makes Payne so dangerous is his versatility. He can knock down a three pointer but if he is contested to hard, he will have no problem dribbling in and finishing down low. His ability to finish at the rim is incredible.
While his basketball IQ is not top notch nor is he particularly young (23 years old), Payne still has the physical tools to succeed. HIs 7 feet wingspan helps him block shots and rebound. He is aggressive and never shies away from contact. In this draft class, Payne is one of the most versatile offensive players. Defensively, Payne tends to lose his man and his focus. He gets fatigued fairly quickly, but that can be worked on with professional coaches. He still excels in blocking shots and rebounding.
Adreian Payne would be a perfect fit for the Thunder. While the Thunder are in the midst of looking for a strong big man and a three point shooter to spread the floor, Payne can do both. With his efficient scoring, less pressure will be on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook offensively as there will be another man who can score. But what excites scouts the most (beside his outstanding finishing abilities) is his strength in the pick and pop. The pick and pop is a version of the pick and roll in which the screener pops out towards the three point line instead of the basket. Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks have mastered the pick and pop, and it is now one of the hardest plays for the Mavs' opponents to guard. With Payne's large body, he can set hard screens, pop out to the 3 point line and then knock it down.
None of the Thunder big men have such great offensive talent. Serge Ibaka proved this season that he will never be more than a 15 PPG player at most. And even though 15 PPG works well with the offense, Ibaka lacks the versatility that Payne possesses. Steven Adams is very inconsistent and conservative with his offense; anything outside the paint is out of his range. Nick Collison is not a stand out offensive player and Kendrick Perkins... forget about it. Adreian Payne would bring an unmatched offensive presence that no Thunder big man brings.
If Payne is still on the board when OKC is up to pick, it would be a crime to not pick him up.