Athletically, Payne is one of the better prospects in the draft, especially at the Power Forward position. He is not a freak athlete like a Lebron James, Paul George, or Andrew Wiggins type, but a very good athlete in the mode of a Taj Gibson. In fact, his game is very similar in numerous ways to Taj. Payne offers great lateral quickness to switch and defend the ball-handler in short bursts.
At 6’10 and 240 lbs., Payne might be a little slight in build, but is wiry strong and presents great height with a good wing-span. Payne might occasionally struggle with post players with some girth, but can deflect numerous shots at the same time.
Payne shows some inconsistency with basketball IQ. He has a tendency to rush shots and needs to improve his understanding of the game defensively. That said, he's improved tremendously in decision making over his career. I think he shows the potential to be a solid decision maker with the right coach and right structure.
Skill-wise, Payne is dynamic player on both ends of the court. Defensively, Payne can switch on ball-handlers and cover a lot of ground in general. Offensively, Payne is a very good shooter from all over the court.
He can defend multiple positions; power forward, small forward on occasion, and in today’s NBA game, many of the centers. Payne’s greatest asset defensively is his ability to switch on ball screens and occasionally guard the opposing ball-handler. Payne will fit in well with the Bulls style of defense giving Tom Thibodeau another dynamic, athletic player who can switch and play active defense.
Offensively, Payne improved immensely throughout his time at Michigan State. As a Power Forward, he shot 42% from three at 3.4 attempts a game. While his greatest strength is perimeter shooting, he can pump-fake into a one or two dribble pull-up jumper as well. While not a consistent post-player, he can post up and shoot a right-jump hook. Lastly, he's very athletic and does well running the floor.
While Payne shows many great strengths, he's not without weaknesses. Despite his athleticism and large wing-span, he only averaged seven rebounds and a block in 28 minutes. Low rebound rate is one of the key negative indicators of a player jumping from college to the pro level. While Payne shows some solid offensive skills, he is not dominant at any one particular skill and isn't a creator.
I see Payne as a very good player at the next level if he can pick up schemes quickly. At age 23 and with small lungs, Payne is limited in terms of being able to play more than 30 minutes a game. Combine this with a role player oriented offensive game, and he'll most likely be a late teens to mid 20’s type pick. However, I feel Payne is one of those players that will have a very long, solid career. Something like a 12 point, nine rebound guy for a decade or so.
How does he fit with the Bulls?
While the Bulls have Taj Gibson, I’m very intrigued by adding Adreian Payne to this team. I feel that if Mirotic is not coming this year, Payne can instantly come in and play some backup power forward minutes and learn for the future with the potential to make Taj expendable down the road if he pans out. I like Payne at pick 19 as much as any other big guy in this system.
Payne is going to be a tremendous addition to any team in my opinion. I feel like his game is a better shooting Taj without as much of a low-post game or shot-blocking. Going through a tough childhood with many deaths, taking on the role of being a role model for Lacey Holsworth, and growing as a player and person through his time, I’m a fan of how he will succeed at the next level.