Wiggins, Parker, Embiid, Randle –Payne?
Bold? Perhaps, but what other players in the world right now possess the ability and star potential of a stretch-four like Payne? What other 6-foot-10 freakishly athletic big men have the talent and wherewithal to beat you down low in the post, outside behind the three-point stripe or even while attacking the rim off the dribble? Look around long and hard; you won’t find anybody.
Payne’s game is so versatile and unique, and the thing is there’s still so much room for development and improvement. When the talented, lengthy forward out of Dayton, Ohio arrived in East Lansing just about four years ago, the three-point shot was near foreign to him. In fact, in his first two years at MSU, Payne attempted only three three-point field goals, connecting on one of them. In the last year and a half, I’d say he’s added the triple to his arsenal. Payne has gone 36-for-87 (41 percent) from deep, and this added element has taken his game to a whole other level.
He’s gone from being a player viewed exclusively as a high-flying dunker and rebound, put-back type to a multi-dimensional weapon. His skills in the post have continued to improve throughout the course of his Spartan career, and maybe the most surprising is the way he can now handle the basketball. More than a few times this year, Payne has beaten his defender off the dribble before throwing down an emphatic dunk.
The NBA seeks players with great versatility, ability, potential and character. Adreian Payne meets the criteria in all of the above. If you aren’t familiar with his relationship with a girl by the name of Lacey Holsworth — an eight-year-old cancer patient — you should be. It’s amazingly touching and shows just how incredible of a person Payne has become.
Owners and GMs picking in the top 5 are searching for a guy who can immediately step in and make an impact to change the outlook of a franchise in a hurry. And while Payne right now is projected by most to be a mid-to-late-first-round pick, I’m absolutely convinced that that will change. His offensive skill-set is truly unparalleled, and his ceiling is through the roof. He’s a strong and capable rebounder and an efficient rim protector too. But most of all he’s different and has the great potential to become a star.
I can’t envision his talents being available after pick No. 5 overall.
Matthew Sturgeon is a College Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter @OfficialSturg27