The Hawks selected Adreian Payne with the 15th pick in the NBA draft on Thursday. Here’s a look at Payne and how he fits with Atlanta:
Bio: Michigan State | Senior | Power forward
Vitals: 6-10, 239 pounds
2013-14 stats: 16.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 50.3 FG%, 42.3 3FG%
Strengths: Payne, 23, is a stretch four who showed his excellent deep-shooting ability at Michigan State. He unknowingly played with mono for much of the season and still put up impressive numbers. He’s strong, has improved as a back-to-the-basket player and should be able to hold his own on the interior and on the glass. Payne is a very good athlete and hard worker who improved in each of his four years with the Spartans. He boasts an inside-out game that should play immediately in a league where floor spacers are in high demand.
Weaknesses: Despite good size and athleticism, Payne hasn't developed into a shot-blocker (0.9 per game). He suffers from a condition that reduces his lung capacity, which at times affected his stamina and playing time (he averaged 28.1 minutes as a senior). That situation has raised doubts about his ability to log heavy minutes in the NBA. His age, of course, has been mentioned repeatedly as a drawback.
Team Fit: At the very least we know that the Hawks have a type. Between Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Pero Antic and now Payne, Atlanta is amassing big men capable of stretching the floor. Every Jeff Teague pick-and-roll will have ample room to breathe, and we saw in the Hawks' first-round playoff series against the Pacers just how much damage that basic set can do.
In a best-case scenario, Payne would also be able to defend more conventional centers to save Horford the trouble. Atlanta's defense will be at its best with Horford active and mobile, which the drain of guarding the post naturally inhibits. Expecting Payne to step into that kind of responsibility in his first season might be too much (particularly when defense was hardly his forte in college), but he has the frame and developmental curve to suggest reasonable capability.