After watching Adreian Payne perform at a high level in the NCAA Tournament, the Atlanta Hawks need to seriously consider taking him with their first-round pick. The 6-foot-10 forward brings a lot to the table that the Hawks could use right away next season. He not only brings size to an Atlanta team struggling to defend the paint and rebound the basketball, but he would also give the Hawks’ bench a much-needed boost offensively.
Usually you want a first-round pick that can come in and be starter right away. However, with Paul Millsap and Al Horford coming back from injuries next year, there’s no way Payne takes a starting spot from one of these two. Both are established players in the NBA who have earned the right to start given their production whenever they take the floor. This doesn’t mean that the senior from Michigan State is not worthy of a first-round pick, though.
Payne would be one of the first players off the bench and possibly the sixth man depending on what GM Danny Ferry does in the offseason. The versatile forward gives coach Mike Budenholzer another big body that fits perfectly into his offensive philosophy, too. He can not only rebound as evidenced by his 7.2 rebounds per game this season with the Spartans, but he also helps space the floor because of his abilities on offense. Payne continues to get better shooting three-pointers to go along with an excellent low post game.
In college he averaged 16.5 points per game, which includes shooting an impressive 43.6 percent from three-point range on 94 attempts. The transition to the NBA three-point line will make it much more challenging for Payne to continue his progression shooting from long range, but he should be up to the task given his track record at the college level where Payne improved his game drastically every single year with the Spartans.