Editor’s Note: As we get closer to the draft, it’s time to talk about possible draft picks for the Hornets. Over the next month, we will preview guys that could end up going to the Hornets at either picks number 9, 24, or 45, culminating in two mock drafts. Also during this time span, we will preview other options the Hornets have such as trading picks or available free-agents. Stick with us for original analysis and predictions all summer long!
Player Essentials: Adreian Payne
Strengths: From a physical standpoint, Adreian Payne out of Michigan States brings an incredible combination of length and explosiveness to the power forward position with a 7’0” wingspan and a 38 inch vertical. Payne utilises these abilities nicely in three facets of the game: rebounding, scoring, and on defense. On the offensive end of the court, Payne is an exceptional finisher, shooting nearly 70% from around the basket over the course of his four-year college career. In addition, while Payne occasionally struggles with positing, he’s a solid rebounder with a nose for the ball, averaging 7.1 boards a game last season at Michigan State. Defensively, while his timing still isn't perfect, his length and leaping ability give him tremendous potential as a shot blocker in the NBA.
Too add to his physical tools, Payne is a well-rounded and very skilled offensive player who can score both inside and from beyond the arc. In his senior season at Michigan State, Payne shot and impressive 42.3% from long range with an average of 1.4 made threes a game. Payne’s ability goes beyond spotting up as the forward is very good in the pick and roll game where defenders have to respect both his shooting ability and athleticism.
On tape, one of the main issues I noticed with Adreian Payne was his tendency to turn the ball over because of his inability to make simple passes. This is shown in his average of 2.0 turnovers game last season in college. However, this seems to be a common theme amongst young players and will likely be neutralized with some NBA coaching.
Another one of my concerns with Payne is his strength. While his weight of nearly 240 pounds appears to be good enough to be competitive at the next level, in college, he seemed to struggle to gain positioning on the offensive end of the court and was even pushed around on the defensive end. Ultimately, while strength issues are fixable, Payne will likely have some significant defensive struggles at the NBA level when he first enters the league.
The Bottom Line
Overall, I’m a big fan of Adreian Payne and his basketball abilities. While looks unlikely that Charlotte would be interested in drafting him with their ninth overall pick, he’s been named a sleeper for the selection by multiple experts. As I mentioned in yesterday's Noah Vonleh article, it’s going to come down to how the Hornets will want to address the power forward position assuming that Josh McRoberts signs with another team. If they decide to fill the role in this year’s draft, Charlotte could look for either Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, or Julius Randle to fall outside of the top eight, or they could trade to the mid-teens to get a guy like Adreian Payne. While Payne doesn’t have the upside that his counterparts posses, he’s more of a proven talent and could likely be thrown into the fire immediately as a Charlotte Hornet if the team decides to go down that road.
Lead Hornets Writer: Jonathon Hoppe