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Elfrid Payton is a name you probably haven't heard much about.  Despite being projected as late lottery pick (he pops up at #12 in several mocks, including the latest from SI's Chris Mannix), Payton is one of the least discussed first-rounders on the board.

A large part of that is likely because the 20-year-old played in relative obscurity at Louisiana-Lafayette (known as the Ragin' Cajuns, I had to look it up).  The 6'4" 185-pound point guard averaged 19.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game as a junior last season.

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Strengths: Payton has a 6'7" wingspan, making him an excellent rebounder for a point guard.  He's a good passer and a very unselfish player, which falls in line with the fact that his biggest asset right now is his defense.  Payton has quick feet and puts forth an extremely high level of effort and intensity on the defensive end of the floor.  He's also a superb ball-handler; evident in both his play in the open floor and his ability to get into the paint.  Despite being a junior Payton is extremely young, in fact he's just six weeks older than Freshman Joel Embiid.  Payton also has athletic genes, his father of the same name was a star defensive end in the Canadian Football League.

Weaknesses: At just 185 pounds, Payton has a very thin frame and will need to bulk up in order to successfully guard NBA competition.  His jumper needs work; Payton shot just 26% on three-pointers and only 59% from the free throw line last year.  He also avoids using his left hand at times, and is prone to careless turnovers.

Fit with the Celtics: Payton is far too much of a reach for Boston to take at #6, and he'll likely be gone by #17 (DraftExpress also projects him going to Orlando at #12).  But if he's still around when the C's make their second pick, or if Boston moves up or down with a trade, Payton is a guy Danny Ainge will have to strongly consider.  Unlike other top point guard options Dante Exum and Marcus Smart, Payton doesn't project as a guy who could possibly slide over to the off guard and play alongside Rajon Rondo.

Drafting Payton doesn't necessarily go hand in hand with trading Rondo though.  Depending on what Boston does at #6, Ainge could decide Payton is too good a talent to pass up at #17 should he be available.  Having a potential starting point ground grooming as Rondo's backup this year (his 2015 free-agency is looming) is not a bad option.




More "Eye on the draft" pieces.


Follow Mark Vandeusen on twitter @LucidSportsFan



Mark Vandeusen 6/24/2014 02:31:00 PM Edit
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