Elfrid Payton, Point Guard
Contract Status: 2 years/ $7.87 million (w/QO)
2016-17 stats: 82 Games, 12.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 47.1% FG, 27.4% 3PT, 69.2% FT
PER 36 stats: 82 games, 15.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 47.1% FG, 27.4% 3PT, 69.2% FT
Elfrid Payton began last year as the unquestioned starter at the point guard position. Due to poor play, he eventually lost his starting position twice to guards DJ Augustin and CJ Watson but reestablished himself after the all-star break. After the break, Payton looked like a different player. His averages of 13.5 points per game, 7.0 rebounds, and 8.4 assists per game while shooting 32% 3PT on 50.4% FG displayed an upward trend. Elfrid Payton ended the year with 18 double-doubles and five triple-doubles, the latter being an Orlando Magic team record.
According to ESPN’s John Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Rating, he ranks 17th amongst point guards and 80th league wide at 17.25. Other notable players in Payton’s range include Klay Thompson (17.53), Kristaps Porzingis (17.49), and Jrue Holiday (17.19).
Strengths of Elfrid Payton
Elfrid Payton’s core strength is his ability to penetrate the paint and find the open man. He may never equate to a scoring first type of point guard but he can score. When he is engaged and looking for his own shot, he is difficult to contain. His natural ability in the open court enables him to push the tempo and generate easy scoring opportunities. As a guard, he rebounds the ball very well. He continues to create opportunities for his team as he pushes the ball in transition.
Weaknesses of Elfrid Payton
Coming into the league, Payton was suppose to be a defensive-minded player. He does have very active hands which equate to open floor turnovers but his pick and roll defense has been a major flaw in his overall game. His thin frame contributes to why he can’t run through most picks set on him and that keeps the teams’ big men out of the perimeter more than they should be. While he can score, Payton has trouble shooting the ball from deep and his overall jumpsuit aside from inside five-year floaters. He has progressed slightly last season, especially after the break but he needs to find a reliable jump shot at some point to gain respect on offense.
Areas of improvement
Next season, Payton’s first area of improvement needs to be learning how to finish through contact. Payton has above-average athleticism but rarely displays his jumping ability. Payton should attempt to finish more at the rim with dunks when possible instead of lower-percentage layups. His next objective has to focus on his shooting percentages. While he did start to perform better to end the season, the NBA is moving into a scoring guards era and Payton needs to become more reliable as a scorer.
2017-18 Season Expectations
Payton is entering his fourth year in the association and a contract extension year. While he may be playing for his long-term stability, he will definitely be playing to prove he deserves to be an NBA starter. The Magic recently signed veteran guard Shelvin Mack and still roster a capable starter in DJ Augustin. Payton showed towards the end of last season that he was capable of performing at a high level and could be effective in an uptempo offense — something the team likely will repeat.
The eastern conference remains guard heavy in terms of all-stars but a realistic goal for Payton should be to become a first time all-star this season. If he can repeat his late season success from last year and lead the Magic into an above .500 record by late December, he could earn a coaches selection.
Elfrid Payton should see an uptick in minutes played from 29 per game last season close to a 33 to 36 minutes per game range. The mistake leash should be extended as the team continues to evaluate their young point guard.
Projected 2017-18 position: Starting Point Guard