Elfrid Payton Is Destined To Play For The Cleveland Cavaliers

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Dec 26, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton (4) drives around Memphis Grizzlies forward James Ennis (8) during the second half of an NBA basketball game at Amway Center. The Magic won 112-202. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Could the Cleveland Cavaliers make another trade with the Orlando Magic? This time, for point guard Elfrid Payton?

Elfrid Payton is only 22-years-old but the Orlando Magic are reportedly down on the 10th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. They’re now willing to trade the third-year point guard.

Payton, a native of Louisiana, surged up the draft boards in 2014. With the physical profile of Rajon Rondo and with a skillset that was very Rondo-like as well, Payton went from a highly-touted collegiate player to a projected star. With his 6-foot-4 height , 6-foot-7 wingspan, strength, athleticism, career assist percentage of 32.0 percent and an award-winning defensive performance in his final season at UL-Lafayette, Payton looked like a player who could be a game changer at the next level.

With 1,190 career assists and 270 career steals in two and a half seasons of play, he has been just.

While Payton isn’t a great three-point shooter and can’t hit his free throws, he’s shown steady improvement on his ability to finish in the lane, which was already a strength. He’s also hitting a higher percentage of his jumpers from every area of the floor.

Well, except the ones coming from behind the arc. He’s currently shooting 25.6 percent on shots from long distance.

Therein lies the problem for Payton. In a league dominated by scoring point guards who can stretch the floor, that’s a strike  against Payton. His most effective offensive skill, as far as scoring, is his ability to get to the rim. Unfortunately, he’s only hit 61.3 percent of his shots from the charity strike this year. That’s his second strike.

Besides those issues, his inexperience no longer coincides with the roster around him. Jeff Green, Bismack Biyombo and Serge Ibaka are three players who came from teams that consistently made the playoffs. Head coach Frank Vogel has made the playoffs in five of the last six seasons.

The Magic, who are in the middle of an accelerated rebuild, may not be ready to wait for Payton to develop as the perimeter player who fits the current core in Orlando. However, Biyombo and Aaron Gordon are two players who don’t rack up a lot of points or find much success behind the perimeter. Ibaka can shoot, but doesn’t want to be a “fake (stretch) four”.

With the skillset of those three players in mind, Payton doesn’t fit the Orlando Magic in a way that’s similar to how Ricky Rubio doesn’t fit within the starting lineup of the Minnesota Timberwolves. However, Rubio is the superior floor general compared to Payton and has the benefit of playing beside two wings who are three-point threats.

Payton, who has the type of defensive tenacity coaches want to see from a player, isn’t the most effective player on offense and hasn’t had enough years under his belt to learn to be as efficient a scorer as he can be at the NBA level. The Magic would do well to bring in players who can boost their talent level and fit the style of play Vogel wants. Some of those players may be acquired in free agency or the draft. However, with D.J. Augustin starting at point guard, the Magic could opt to trade a player who doesn’t fit for players who can help the team in ways Payton can’t.

That means players who will be reliable three-point threats, to start.

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