The Thunder selected Cameron Payne with the No. 14 pick in 2015 NBA draft on Thursday night at the Barclays Center.
The Murray State guard averaged a team-leading 20.2 points and ranked 15th in the nation with 6 assists per game.
Payne was not a highly touted recruit out of high school after coming off the bench on the AAU circuit. He wasn’t supposed to be Isaiah Canaan’s replacement at Murray State, but he had to assume the starting point guard role immediately as a freshman due to injuries sustained by others. Payne emerged as one of the elite point guards in the country. Leading the Racers’ offense, Payne guided Murray State to the 13th-most efficient offense in the nation this season, according to kenpom.com.
He recently suffered a fractured ring finger on his non-shooting hand, but the injury does not require surgery.
Mannix's analysis: Oklahoma City is stocked at virtually every position, so this pick was a luxury. The one area of weakness for the Thunder is backup point guard, a position Payne (hopefully) fills. Mid-major guards have had a lot of success in recent years—think Damian Lillard and Elfrid Payton—and Payne has the potential to join that list. Payne isn’t especially athletic, so he will have to develop into a consistent three-point shooter to grab that backup point guard spot. Kind of liked Kelly Oubre here, but again, OKC is deep almost everywhere.
Strengths: Payne has the one true necessary skill of a point guard in today’s NBA: a mastery of the pick-and-roll. He’s crafty working in various pick-and-roll sets, using his next-level decision-making ability, pull-up jumper and fluid floater to keep defenses off balance. He possesses the vision and ball-handling abilities of an NBA point guard, and he really shines in the open court. What makes Payne an especially intriguing prospect to scouts is his length and defensive versatility. At just under 6’2”, Payne measured an exceptional 6’7 ¼” wingspan. Combine that with his quickness and Payne could potentially guard the majority of all NBA wings.
Weaknesses: Like many 20-year-old prospects, Payne needs to add muscle in order to survive at the next level. His floater is truly a weapon, but he struggles getting all the way to the rim and has difficulties finishing. Payne’s struggle to reach the tin against mid-major opponents is definitely concerning. His funky shooting form is also a cause for some pause.