Elfrid Payton is entering his fourth season with the Orlando Magic. And it will likely be his breakout year in the NBA.
Usually, at this point in a player’s NBA career, they have developed into the player they are destined to be. That’s not the case with the Orlando Magic’s Elfrid Payton. Payton had a bit of a bumpy journey last season. He was benched twice in favor of veteran guards due to sub par game play. He was able to regain the starter reigns after the All-Star Break and became the Orlando Magic ‘star’ player to end the year.
Payton averaged 12.8 points per game, 6.5 assists per game and 4.7 rebounds per game during the regular season. He also logged five triple-doubles on the season and solidified himself as the Orlando Magic all time leader in triple-doubles.
After the break, Payton averaged 13.5 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game and 8.4 assists per game. The Orlando Magic won just eight games after the break but none was more valuable than the last game against the Detroit Pistons. Two minutes after the final game ended and again during exit interviews, Elfrid Payton hinted that the summer will be dedicated to the gym working on his game for the next season.
And he has done just that.
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) August 7, 2017
This year, Orlando has stacked the chips in favor of competition against Payton at the point guard position. The team added veteran guard Shelvin Mack and retained serviceable guard DJ Augustin. But don’t expect Elfrid Payton to back down from the challenge of remaining the team’s starter.
Payton is coming into his first contract year and the team is giving him every opportunity to stay in Orlando long-term. The team opted to select forward Jonathan Isaac with the sixth pick in the 2017 NBA Draft despite the fan favorite Dennis Smith Jr. being available. Drafting Smith Jr would have forced the Magic to decide on Payton’s future immediately. And that’s something new management has reiterated they will not do. Management claimed this year would be an evaluation of talent year.
According to ESPN’s blog fivethirtyeight.com, Elfrid Payton should do more than just break out in their CARMELO ratings. He should become more of a Tony Parker type of player.
If Payton is able to follow in the mold of San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker, then Orlando would be wise to give him the market value contract of five year $113 million.
Tony Parker helped lead the Spurs to four NBA Championships with team mate Tim Duncan and head coach Greg Popovich. Parker has one of the highest basketball IQ’s for a point guard.
The blog site also indicated that Payton is an up-and-comer. And it seemed the Orlando Magic agreed by looking to build off of last season’s final 20 games instead of bringing in a replacement.
Payton will need to fully harness his strengths and become the leader the Orlando Magic desperately need. That task now seems to be closer to becoming a reality with the upgraded roster the Magic have constructed this offseason.
The Magic have acquired athletic defensive players who are capable of playing offense. Payton should be able to thrive on a team that focuses its identity on playing tough defense.
On the Offensive
Offensively, Payton is able to penetrate the lane with relative ease. Increasing opportunities to get to the basket or find the open man. He has done a much better job finishing at the rim and not getting his shot blocked. His ability to facilitate allows the offense to flow fluidly.
If Payton can continue his strong play from last season, he should at minimum replicate those stats and become a driving force for the Orlando Magic during a playoff push.
After finishing the season really strong and getting another offseason to work on his game this summer, Payton is ready for a breakout 2017-18 campaign.