The 76ers selected Elfrid Payton with the No. 10 pick in the NBA draft on Thursday, then reportedly traded Payton to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Dario Saric. Here’s a look at Payton and how he fits with Orlando:
Bio: Louisiana-Lafayette | Junior | Point guard
Vitals: 6-4, 185 pounds
2013-14 stats: 19.2 points, 5.9 assists, 6.0 rebounds, 2.3 steals, 50.9 FG%, 25.9 3FG%
Strengths: Payton’s elite defensive skills and ability to penetrate (he averaged 8.6 free throws in 35.9 minutes), coupled with his size and quickness, make him one of the draft’s biggest sleepers. Though he’s a junior, the 20-year-old was a year young for his grade and still posted impressive numbers: Payton was the only Division I player to average 19 points, five assists, six rebounds and two steals. He also regularly guarded the opponent’s best perimeter player.
Weaknesses: Payton will have to improve his perimeter shot to ensure that he becomes more than a defensive specialist; he made only 30 three-pointers in three seasons with the Ragin' Cajuns. He’s a good passer but will have to take better care of the ball, as he averaged 3.6 turnovers while playing in the mid-major Sun Belt conference.
Team Fit: With this trade, Orlando moves up to get a guy they coveted in Payton. Denver was reportedly in talks with several teams at the No. 11 pick (which ended up being Doug McDermott, to Chicago), the Magic likely feared missing out on him one spot later and made the move. He’ll team with Victor Oladipo to form an extremely athletic backcourt that could become one of the league’s top defensive duos.
Payton needs time to develop his jump shot but plays excellent, aggressive defense and can get to the rim and score—and with Orlando on the rebuild, he’ll have time to figure out the shooting issues. The mid-major prospect continues his incredible rise into the lottery and will look to follow in Damian Lillard’s footsteps, bringing big game from a small school. He fills a need and looks like another step in the right direction for the Magic.