Draft Profiles: Elfrid Payton, 6’4, PG, Louisiana Lafayette, 185 lbs., Freshman

Draft Profiles: Elfrid Payton, 6’4, PG, Louisiana Lafayette, 185 lbs., Freshman

Athletic Ability

Athletically, Payton is one of the top players in this draft and the best athlete focused who plays exclusively as a point guard position (I am excluding LaVine because he is a combo guard).   The thing I like the most about Payton is his elite speed which usually translates to the NBA.  Along with elite speed, at near 6’4, his rangy strides get him up the court faster than usual as well.  Payton also possesses elite anticipation, quick hands, elite lateral quickness, and above average hops.


While skinny, at near 6’4, Payton possesses great height, length, and a solid wing-span for a point guards.  He is also wiry strong and could probably add a little weight to his frame.  While naturally a point guard, defensively, he can guard shooting guards on occasion.

Basketball IQ

Basketball IQ, Payton shows tremendous understanding of the game.  Many times, he is able to see the play unfold even while playing at high speed.  He set up teammates for six assists a game while averaging 19 points.  Without a very good shot, Payton used plenty of smarts along with his speed to compile those stats.  Defensively, Payton would guard players ranging from point guard to power forward and some of that has to be defensive intelligence.


While showing horrific outside shooting touch, Payton’s offensive skill relies on his craftiness and speed to get into the lane or finish mid-range shots.  He can finish in the lane with up-and-under moves, body contortions, and floaters.  If not scoring for self, he is able to create for others as evidenced by near six assists a game. 

Payton also possesses a jet like quick first step and a good crossover.  He also does a tremendous job getting out on fast break and creating for others.

Defensively, Payton could be one of the best point guard defenders in the league.  He has big and quick hands, and at 6’4 and his size, athleticism, and skill allow him to smother other point guards and defend bigger players as well.  With great anticipation skills, he averaged over 2 steals a game. 

However, with great quickness and grit, Payton does a good job fighting and recovering through screens.  With the versatility that he provides, he fought valiantly when guarding the much bigger and fellow NBA Prospect in Doug McDermott.  While McDermott scored efficiently, Payton made him work for every point.

While Payton has tremendous assets in terms of athletic ability and some skills, he has some glaring concerns.  As a point guard, he only shot 26% from three and 60% from the free throw line.  Flat out, that is a huge concern and is the difference between him being a for sure superstar and just a very good defensive playmaker that can scorer if finding ways into the lane. 

While Payton is very creative in getting to the rack, at times he struggled finishing the shots.  Was finishing a by-product of being thinner?   While a bad shooter, will his new form results in a better shot?  If he can develop a moderate perimeter shot outside of the lane, he could be a star!


Overall, if Payton hits full-stride in talent, he could be one of the best players in this draft.  Defensively, he already has the tools to being elite and has more height than Patrick Beverley.  He also has a better understanding of the game at the point guard position than comparisons of Beverley and Teague. 

The key for Payton will be if his new shooting stroke will lead to being at least adequate enough to opening up the rest of his game, or at least he can figure out how to get into the paint similarly to a Rajon Rondo or a Tony Parker. 

It has been stated that he has been tearing up the workouts, did well in the Under 19 USA trials, and has done well when playing higher major type teams.   I can see Payton moving up to mid-lottery in this draft with potential to be better than players picked above him (he will have to work hard to earn a good status).  

While I think there is a tier that involves players above him in Dante Exum, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, and Andrew Wiggins, Payton has a chance to be in the next tier that could be a borderline star if he develops a jumper.  The next tier are players that have potential to be really good and more than just a role player, but must develop a certain skill (Julius Randle – jumper, Noah Vonleh – an identity of a game, Aaron Gordon – knowing he is a power forward offensively and developing a jumper along with more muscle mass, and Marcus Smart – a perimeter jumper).

How does he fit with the Bulls?

The Bulls need shooters, playmakers, and any offense they can get.  I really like some possibilities in this draft at near where we pick and we have Rose coming back (if there are no set-backs – I highly doubt he will be the same).  Stating that, I feel we need playmakers and this kid has a chance to be an elite talent.

He has elite defensive potential, great speed, height that makes a difference at the point guard position, a good understanding of the game, and I feel would at least provide numerous opportunities to step in for Rose in the long run if he goes down for the long run or black alongside Rose if we get other shooters at the Stretch 4 and Small Forward.  

I just feel this kid is worth trading up for if we can get him in the range of pick 9, 10, or so on.  I’ve missed on pick Ekpe Udoh, but have guessed correctly on Paul George and Gorgui Dieng.  I just feel this kid is a smart player that has elite athletic ability at his position.  If he does not develop a jumper, than other players such as Stauskas and Harris would be better fits for our team!  However, I am willing to take that risk on a talent such as Payton.


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  • Haven't seen Payton play much but your description actually reminds me of Derrick Rose, a taller and skinnier version. Is that accurate, or how would you compare and contrast Payton and D-Rose?

  • In reply to Roman F:

    He is not going to be as good as DRose, but he if maximized can have a little Gary Payton to him. Will he be Gary Payton defensively or can he add some offense?

  • I've been all in on this kid from the start. Think he will be an all star point guard. And since he is such a strong and versatile defender, he could play alongside D Rose or replace him if/when necessary. I would even be psyched to trade up to get hiim. Sure wish the Bulls would buy an extra 2nd rounder. More likely they sell the one they have. Chad Ford's latest mock 8.0 for Espn has Sacramento taking Payton at 8. He previously had Orlando passing on Dante Exum with the 4th pick and taking Payton at 12. Could be the Bulls won't even get a chance.

  • In reply to sfpaper:

    You are correct - he won't last to pick 16.

  • Other than the shooting issues(no small thing to be sure) I love what I've read about this guy. He doesn't look all that skinny, he looks more the lean and wiry type.

    If the Bulls are going to draft a backup point guard I would rather take Payton than Ennis or Napier. That said, it is starting to look like he might be gone by our pick. However, he might be one of those guys that gets a lot of hype during the workout phase, but then teams in the Lottery get cold feet on him on draft day.

    If both he and LaVine are on the board at 16 or 19 for that matter who would you take. I wouldn't really be upset if we took both, going for broke on the risk/reward spectrum, but my hope is that we get lucky enough to get one of them, and either Payne, Warren or Hood.

  • Nice review. I"m not sold on Payton, but I understand where Kevin is coming from with the pursuit of sheer talent which is what Elfrid Payton possesses. Obviously G.M.'s agree with Kevin's take as Payton has shot up to mid and upper lottery recently on mock drafts.

    I can see trading up for a talent, and being aggressive as that shows you're committed to bettering yourself. That said, if the Bulls were to trade up, I'd rather go after Harris, Stauskas, or if higher then Noah Vonleh or Exum. Payton shooting wise.. not good, and he plays a lot of minutes to rack up those points etc. Plus his A/TO at 1.6 two years in a row is not stellar by any means. Seems like some of this rise is being fueled by killer workouts. He could of course turn out to be a very good player, but after watching the Bulls horrid offense I want guys that can shoot or show better promise then this kid. I admit if they drafted him I would not ascend a church tower armed with a telescopic rifle and wait for Gar/Pax to exit the Berto or anything, but I would not be thrilled either.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I get why you would say what you are saying. I am hesitant sometimes to gush over him as a prospect due to turnover rates and no perimeter jumper. However, I feel will at least a star defensively with potential offensively. Others might be better fits for us, but Payton could have a chance to be a star.

  • As of now personally I'm sticking with Early at 16 and James Young/Payne tied at 19. Provided of course that Hood is gone and Harris or Stauskas don't have some crazy drop becoming available. I really like Early though. If they draft him I'm going to be very, very pleased which means... it's not going to happen(ha).

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Talking to myself again. DraftExpress latest has Bulls taking T.J. Warren and James Young. I still wonder if Warren with strong lower body, 6'10" plus wingspan, good hand size etc. can grow into PF position? If so he could be a serious scorer.

    I have to admit getting close to the draft I'm starting to get a little amped. Daryl Morey, Houston's MIT geek G.M. says he thinks this is the deepest draft since 05' - another year without a ton of star talent, but a lot of good players(Chris Paul, Deron Williams, David Lee, Monta Ellis, Blatche, Amir Johnson, Danny Granger, Andrew Bynum, Bogut, Jarrett Jack, Brandon Bass, Mahimi, not to mention our buddy Nate Robinson. Please Gar/Pax two hits!(or more realistic even one).

  • Maybe the Bulls can draft Embiid at 16 or even 19, he just broke his foot, the Jordan injury from some reports.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Reading the report on Payton reminds me of Rajon Rondo, but I haven't seen him play.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    That is a definite possibility. I think he has a chance to have a better mid-range with his changed shot form. However, can he be the competitor and find ways to finish in the paint like Rondo?

  • In reply to BigWay:

    From what I have seen, Embiid is still going in the 4-7 range, broken foot and all. The magic have 2 picks in the lottery, they can treat Embiid like a foreign stash and just have him sit the season. It's not like they are gonna be good anyway, might as well take a chance on his talent, it's the only way small market teams get stars.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I do wonder how far Embiid will fall. Someone yesterday said this navicular bone in the foot is the slowest healing bone in the body. Who wants a 2 ~ 3 year project with bad feet and a bad back. He could be dropping to 9 or later.

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