The first pick in the draft to be traded was the last pick in the top 10, with Philadelphia dealing Elfrid Payton to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Dario Saric and a future first round pick. Lucky, because when Philadelphia took Payton, it made little sense unless Michael Carter-Williams was on his way out of the City of Brotherly Love.
As things stand now, Payton is in a great situation in Orlando, following the release of veteran point guard Jameer Nelson. Payton will be the starting point guard for Orlando, alongside second-year star Victor Oladipo and is in a great position to put up big numbers as he will be getting a lot of court time.
The Magic have changed their backcourt immensely from last season. Gone are Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Ronnie Price, E’Twaun Moore and Doron Lamb, and in their place is Payton, Ben Gordon, Evan Fournier and Willie Green. So basically, there is one point guard on the roster, and that is Payton. Fournier will handle the ball at times as will Oladipo, but it’s basically Payton’s team to run. This could be great for his fantasy value.
Before we head into prognosticating this season, let’s have a look at what Payton was able to achieve last season for Louisiana-Lafayette.
He’s an aggressive point guard, getting the rid and attacking the glass, as well as being a ferocious defender, but his shooting is worrisome. Not only can he not hit triples — he can’t fit jumpers or free throws. His 50 percent field goal percentage is an anomaly as a lot of that is from getting to the rim against lower competition. In his first Summer League outing, Payton went 1-4 from the field and finished with just two points, three rebounds, five assists and four turnovers in 18 minutes. It’s his first game and it’s only Summer League, but let’s hope that the shooting woes aren’t a sign of things to come.
The best thing going for Payton is the aforementioned playing time. I think he’ll play somewhere in the range of 34-35 minutes alongside Oladipo and will grow as the season progresses, as most rookies do. He has the potential to be a fantasy dynamo. Points, assists, rebounds and steals could all be plus categories for him, he just needs to make sure his shooting isn’t too much of a detriment.
Here’s how I project Payton to perform next season.
If you’re punting free throws, Payton is probably a top 100 target, but in a roto format or just in terms of overall value, Payton will struggle because of those percentages. He projects at about pick 150, so worth a flyer in 10 and 12 team leagues definitely, but don’t break the bank for him. Because of the playing time though, he is one of the rookies I would suggest going a little early on, because if he gets his shooting under control, a decent season could be had.