1. I was initially down on the Payne pick, but I'm warming up to it even though I still believe the Thunder's biggest roster hole is at shooting guard. If you could somehow combine the defense of Andre Roberson, the ability to drive of Dion Waiters and the potential of Jeremy Lamb, then you would have someone the Thunder could legitimately rely on at shooting guard. While drafting this hypothetical player would be ideal, the Thunder addressed a need when drafting Payne. They need players that can facilitate and score the basketball, players that can hold leads as a part of the second unit while giving them even greater flexibility while on the court. This was accomplished today.
When D.J. Augustin was traded for, I believe the Thunder envisioned playing Russell Westbrook off the ball with Augustin at the point. In certain spots this is a really good idea, and even though Augustin gives them the capability to do this, Payne can do it even better. It's like trading in your Ford Focus for Mustang. The Focus will get you to the place you want to go, but not with the speed or the style of a Mustang.
2. It will be interesting to see if Payne slowly begins to eat into the minutes given to Augustin next season. Augustin averaged over 24 minutes for the Thunder last season (albeit with a heavily injured team), and only made 37% of his shots while struggling in the paint. If Augustin struggles, will we see more of Payne sooner rather than later next season?
3. Payne really needs to learn how to use a selfie stick.
4. Payne gives the Thunder insurance. While the doomsday free agency scenario is unlikely, Payne could find himself running the team someday. If this were to happen, the Thunder could have worse options than a player that projects similarly to a Mike Conley or Jeff Teague.
5. It's strange to listen to a player talk in the third person, but at the same time, funny. Here are a couple of his quotes from tonight.
"Anything Coach needs me to do, Cameron Payne is going to do it."
"There is no ceiling for Cameron Payne."
6. Payne can fill in the bench dancing role that left with Jeremy Lamb. This became a huge draft need after Lamb was traded to the Charlotte Hornets.
Cameron Payne to the Thunder https://t.co/hfKK7En0Fe— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) June 26, 2015
7. Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams will love Payne. One of Payne's biggest strengths is the pick-and-roll. I fully expect the number of highlight reel dunks to increase for next season. Look for a Payne to Ibaka/Adams alley-oop on the SportsCenter Top-10 multiple times next season.
8. Payne will be much more than just a back-up point guard for the Thunder. His abilities are far greater than just giving Russell Westbrook an occasional breather. I fully expect him to, in time (by no means immediately), be a player that shines with the second unit. He can be a pivotal part of the Thunder offense, and be a main cog in continuing the Thunder assault for a NBA Championship. I could easily see him as a 6th Man of the Year candidate in a few years.
You can follow Cameron Payne on Twitter @campayne.