Elfrid Payton is a true point guard, possessing the nuance, court sense, and general disposition of a natural floor general. That the 6’4 rookie can sky for huge tip dunks like this one are why many consider him a future All-Star.
But the Orlando Magic rookie is hardly without his flaws. Payton’s biggest one? His shooting stroke.
Minutes after cramming the one-hand hammer over Taj Gibson, the Louisana Lafayette product found himself open from three-point range with the shot clock winding down. The result is nice; how it was accomplished is anything but.
Sly guy, that Elfrid Payton. He can shake his head at that hideous banked-in long-ball all he wants, but an outcome like that one was far more likely than a smooth swish.
Payton made nine of his 38 three-point tries coming into Wednesday’s action, and is a clear non-shooting threat at this point in his career. Defenders go under ball-screens on him at all costs, and frequently leave him off the ball to muck up the more meaningful action. Payton has compensated for the latter development with a canny cutting game, but the Magic will always be limited offensively unless he develops into a semi-respectable perimeter shooting option.
Other evidence in addition to this fortuitous make suggesting he has a long ways to go in that regard: Payton shoots 55 percent from the free throw line; he made just 45 shots outside the paint prior to tonight’s game; and his shot chart is drenched in blood red.
Despite all that, we’re high on Payton’s future. He’s a tremendous athlete with rare length and an easy feel for the game, a combination of attributes that’s extremely rare even in a league saturated with star point guards. The 21 year-old’s strengths will intensify as he gains more experience, perhaps mitigating the need for a reliable jumper in the process
But Payton has legitimate star potential, and the only way he’ll realize it is if he makes major strides from the perimeter. For now, though, Orlando can take the good with the bad – he’s young, after all.
The Magic locked in a tight battle with Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls late in the third quarter, and Payton has a chance at his third triple-double of the season. He’s contributed 14 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, plus a pair of disparate highlights that hint at stardom and a debilitating weakness.