Analyzing the Elfrid Payton Trade and Whats Next For the Orlando Magic

The 2018 NBA trade deadline is yesterday’s news. The Orlando Magic were inclined to begin making changes to the roster. And dealing point guard Elfrid Payton was the first move to make.

The Orlando Magic only made one deal before Thursday’s 3p.m. trade deadline. The team decided to remove fourth year guard Elfrid Payton from the magic equation. An equation that resulted in four years of losing seasons. Soon to be six overall since the teams last playoff appearance in 2012.

The return: A 2018 second round pick from the Phoenix Suns. The second-most valuable pick between Charlotte, Memphis and Miami’s picks.

Elfrid Payton averaged 13.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game this season. Payton is shooting a career high 37 percent from three and 52 percent from the floor. However, the Magic were not convinced that he was the long-term solution in their rebuilding plans.

Some felt Orlando should have received more compensation for a player like Payton.

Some thought this trade offer was a joke of some kind.

Some believed Elfrid Payton was worth more than a second-round pick due to his ability to score in isolation and push the tempo on offense. Payton helped lead Orlando to the seventh fastest pace played in the NBA this season. His PER of 18.2 was a career high and sported an offensive rating of 105.9, also a career high.

On the contrary, his defensive prowess that he was billed to have upon entering the league was non-evident and some felt his offensive gains this year were not accurate. In actuality, Payton’s defensive rating was atrocious at 113.6 on the year.

As a primary ball handler with the Suns, Payton will have the opportunity to showcase his abilities and increase his value. Payton should put together a strong campaign playing alongside sharpshooter Devin Booker and Josh Jackson. Phoenix has been looking for a fixture at the point guard and this was a buy-low type of deal.

The Viewpoint on Trading Elfrid Payton

Orlando Magic President of Basketball Operations, Jeff Weltman, confirmed the decision to move on from Payton in an interview with Fox Sports Florida after Thursday night’s game at home against the Atlanta Hawks.

“The NBA is evolving, and we have to fit this into our team and into the context of the league,’’ said Weltman. ” Certainly, as we grow the team, there are certain principles and cornerstones that we want to build with. These all go into the mix of free agency, draft and timing of where we are as a team. Do we want to lock in financially to a team that struggled in recent years? These are all factors that figure in.”

“We added a draft pick, we retained a little flexibility and that’s what we got today. We’re excited to have those and we feel that we need those to have a little bit of wiggle room and creativity as we assemble the roster.” Weltman said. “All of that stuff comes to bear in June when we start to do this all over again.”

Falling in line with long-term objectives, Orlando Magic management decided moving Payton now was the right move.

Did Orlando Get The Best Possible Deal

The Orlando Magic were not going to resign Payton to a long-term deal after the current season. So instead, they decided any sort of compensation was better than no compensation at all.

The best case scenario anyone could have hoped for was to receive a younger prospect. Or a first round selection in the upcoming draft. It had been reported that the New York Knicks were showing interest in Payton but rebuffed the idea of having to part ways with promising rookie guard Frank Ntilikina. The team also had a deal in place that would’ve swapped Payton for former Denver Nugget guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who was later acquired by the Knicks. Indications are that Denver felt they should not have had to relinquish picks for Payton in a player swap deal. Rumors throughout the league indicated teams would be reluctant to part ways with any sort of first-round pick for Payton likely due to his expected salary increase this summer.

With all aspects considered, Orlando did in fact receive the best possible compensation at the time of the trade. They could have sign and traded him during the off-season but that’s under the assumption the team matched an offer sheet for him and would have had to take back salaries. It was better to go for the sure thing now than risk losing Payton for nothing later.

Orlando Magic: Last-minute Elfrid Payton trade an awful one

What’s Next For The Orlando Magic

“Do we want to lock in financially to a team that struggled in recent years?”, Weltman said during his recent interview with Fox Sports Florida.

The Magic failed to move on from other players tied to those struggling years before Thursday’s deadline.

One or more current Magic core players could find themselves playing for a new team before the start of next season.

Its been confirmed that Orlando wants more shooting from the guard position and newly anointed starter, DJ Augustin, provides just that. What fails to be seen is if Orlando will give Augustin an opportunity to win the starting job for next season or if they will look to solidify the position in the upcoming draft.

In all likelihood, the Magic are setting themselves up for what should be an active draft night in June.

Last summer, the Orlando Magic moved draft picks to create cap space and roster space to sign veterans. This summer they could choose to do more of the same. Or they could use their bevy of future picks to move down in the draft or gain another first round selection.

Its less likely Orlando decides to bring back more than two rookies this draft. They are not aiming to getting younger necessarily but want to improve as a team.



Should the Orlando Magic Retain Elfrid Payton Past This Season?

The Orlando Magic declined to extend fourth year point guard Elfrid Payton during the off-season. But now is the time for them to reconsider his value to the team for the future.

Elfrid Payton is not a household NBA name. His herky-jerky style is not a common style of play. He has had question marks about his overall team effectiveness while in the NBA.

But enough is enough.

Elfrid Payton has proved he belongs in the NBA.

He may never earn an NBA all-star bid. He may never have a chance to earn a max contract or be featured in a McDonald’s commercial. His career numbers will not fit the criteria for the NBA Hall-of-Fame.

But he is an effective NBA point guard and that is important for his career.

Individual Play Has Improved

The Orlando Magic should be done evaluating Payton this season.

Elfrid Payton’s play as of late has been similar to finding a loose crinkled $100 bill on the ground — unexpected, not very pretty, but greatly appreciated and valuable.

Elfrid Payton is the type of point guard who excels in a role that allows him to get out in transition. The Magic are a team who have done well when they played a faster paced game. Make no mistake about it, this Orlando Magic team is built to run — something they failed to do after a promising 8-4 start to the season. The Magic currently rank 8th in the league in pace at just over 102 possessions per game. In the Magic’s last 13 games, Payton has increased his scoring (15.4), three-point shooting percentage (47.6) and overall shooting percentage (52.8) — areas of question during his NBA tenure.

Ironically, Payton’s recent surge in play coincides with the time frame center Nikola Vucevic has been inactive with a hand injury.

Elfrid Payton Still Has Room To Improve

Payton has been in the NBA for four years now.

And he is only 23 years old.

At such a young age, it would be foolish to believe Payton is incapable of expanding his game further as his career progresses. Some players need a bit more time to peak and Payton may be one of those players.

This year, Payton has been able to find a very respectable three-point shot as he is converting on 40 percent of his 1.6 attempts per game — 10 percent over his career average.

With nearly the same core of teammates he has been with since he entered the league, growth was expected. The longer players are together, they should develop chemistry. In Payton’s case, this may have been the opposite. It’s a possibility his teammates were simply holding him back.

Last year, Payton went through a very similar phase. The Magic attempted to play a half court style centered through big men Nikola Vucevic and Serge Ibaka. After a trade to bring in a smaller, quicker Terrence Ross, Orlando and Payton witnessed different results. While the win column failed to grow, Payton blossomed into a triple-double threat in a more up-tempo style of play. He averaged 13.5 points per game, 7 rebounds, 8.4 assists and 1 steal through the final 24 games of the 2016-2017 season.

In Payton’s last 10 games, he has been in double-digit scoring seven times. In four of those games, he went for 20 or more points. This is an indication he is capable of being a consistent offensive threat if given the opportunity — but he must remain aggressive.

Orlando has witnessed several other young prospects leave the team to blossom into fixed starters or all-stars somewhere else. The team would regret watching Payton develop into a legitimate threat at the point guard position with another franchise.

Life After Elfrid Payton

Let’s roll the dice and assume Payton is gone after season’s end. According to, the top three available point guards this summer are Chris Paul, Isaiah Thomas and — Elfrid Payton. The next three rated free agent point guards are Tony Parker, Jeremy Lin, and Rajon Rondo. Of the list, only Paul and Thomas are scoring more points per game than Payton this season. Only Paul and Rondo are averaging more assists per game. A big question mark for every other player but Payton will come down to injuries and age. Everyone on the list has had a serious history with injuries or a battle with father time. So, if Orlando chooses to move on from Payton, free agency seems to be out of the equation.

A second option for Orlando would be to allow guards DJ Augustin and Shelvin Mack run the offense. Only the former could be a legit option as a starter. Augustin is a career backup guard but proved he can lead a fast pace offense. The issue with him for Orlando is his defensive limitations and limited upside. This move would be for the short-term as the team likely explores the next option — the draft.

And here we are, the last option for Orlando. The 2018 NBA Draft. The Orlando Magic are likely to be in position to draft another point guard this summer with their expected high lottery pick. The only legitimate names to consider would be Oklahoma’s Sooners Trae Young and Real Madrid’s Luka Doncic. Orlando could go with either player in an attempt to establish some type of fixture at the point guard position. What Orlando would have to figure out is if either player is ready and capable to start from day one and be effective — not two or three years later.

If the answer is no, Payton should find his way back with Orlando until one became ready.

Situational Lineups for the Orlando Magic for 2017-18 NBA Season

Payton by the Numbers Is Worth A Deal

Examining the numbers of the NBA, Payton is worth a new deal to the Orlando Magic. The average NBA starting point guard falls in one of two categories. The first category is being on a rookie contract — which Payton is currently on — and the second option is on an average annual salary contract of $18.3 million.

That’s right. The average starting point guard is making $18.3 million a year. Payton ranks 29th in terms of salary at just over $3 million a year. If Orlando wants to keep Payton it will not cost them $18 million dollars a year.

That means Orlando can get crafty and hopefully hold on to a solid point guard — on a much cheaper contract — while they figure out the long-term situation.

According to comparable stats, Payton ranks 12th in the NBA amongst all qualified point guards in PER at 18.15. That’s just below all-star guards such as Kyle Lowry (18.6), John Wall (19.48), and Kemba Walker (20.20). Amongst qualified guards, Payton ranks 3rd in field goal percentage this season converting on 52.4 percent of his attempts.

While these numbers may not hold much weight on a losing team, they do indicate that Payton is a valuable contributor to his team. This team.

Orlando must figure out a clear direction for the franchise and whether or not that includes retaining Payton beyond this season.


Post Game Reactions: Orlando Magic Welcome Elfrid Payton Back With A Win Over The New York Knicks

The Orlando Magic found their offense Wednesday night against the visiting New York Knicks. Losers of two in a row, the Orlando Magic of old returned and continued their strong team effort play defeating the Knicks 112-99.

The New York Knicks (6-5) were expecting to have Kristaps Porzingis on their trip to Florida. The Orlando Magic (7-4) were hoping but not expecting to have point guard Elfrid Payton. Both received unexpected surprises.

A little over an hour before game time, New York revealed Porzingis would not play due to a right ankle sprain and right elbow contusion. Around the same time, the Orlando Magic announced Elfrid Payton would return from his eight game absence due to a nagging hamstring injury.

The Return of Elfrid Payton

The Magic offense showed why Elfrid Payton was so valuable to what they want to do this season. Payton consistently pushed the ball in transition and found the open man either cutting to the rim or spot up for an open three. On the opening play of the game, Payton found Aaron Gordon for an easy open alley-oop connection. A few plays later, he found an open Evan Fournier in the corner for a three. After the game, Payton stated that was his purpose. “That’s what I’m here for, to make everybody job as easy as possible”. Payton finished with 11 points, 11 assists, and six rebounds on the night.

Offensive Flow and Tempo

The Orlando Magic ended the game with 30 assists on 46 made baskets. It was apparent the Magic needed Elfrid Payton back for the offense to find fluidity once again. The Magic converted on 54 percent of their shot attempts and shot a sizzling 46 percent from three.

They seemed to have returned to their old selves as everyone contributed in a Magic win. The Magic had three players score 20 points or more and stayed true to their playing style of pushing the tempo every chance possible. Speaking to Evan Fournier after the game, he reiterated the importance of having Payton back for the offense. “It definitely feels better. We only had one point guard for two games, and we lost those games by 20. Again, that’s not a coincidence.” Fournier tallied 23 points for the Magic.

Center Nikola Vucevic led the Magic in scoring with 24 points and forward Aaron Gordon added 21 points, including going 4-6 from three.

Defensive Tenacity

On the defensive end, Orlando kept their hands active. The Magic forced the Knicks into 23 turnovers and several key blocks down the stretch. Orlando played smothering defense holding the Knicks to just 23 points in the fourth period. Forward Aaron Gordon reminded his former teammate, Kyle O’Quinn of the Magic defense with an emphatic block at the rim that created another Knicks turnover. The Magic had a season high 16 steals with Fournier responsible for creating five.

No Porzingis, Big Problem For the Knicks

The New York Knicks felt the absence of Kristaps Porzingis and his ability to create offense. Porzingis is second in scoring in the NBA at just over 30 points a game. His absence and points needed to be replicated in order for the Knicks to have a chance at pulling off the upset win in Orlando. The only Knick to step up and show some consistent scoring for the Knicks was Tim Hardaway Jr. who led the game in scoring with 26 points and 11 rebounds.

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Forward Michael Beasley started for Porzingis and was inefficient and ineffective finishing with four points on the night in 20 minutes of game action.

Orlando Magic Are Trending Up With Latest Win-Loss Projections

The Knicks kept pace in the game until the fourth quarter. That’s when swingman Jonathon Simmons single-handedly pushed the game out of reach for the Knicks. Simmons entered the fourth quarter and scored 11 straight points to essentially secure the Magic lead. He finished with 16 points. Vogel credits Simmons being back on the wing in Payton’s return as the reason for his effectiveness. “When we’re at our best, its with the starting unit doing what they are doing and Simmons coming in and running the show with the second unit.”

The Magic will have Thursday off as they prepare for a four game west coast trip beginning Friday night against the Phoenix Suns (4-8).

Situational Lineups for the Orlando Magic for 2017-18 NBA Season

A new NBA season is drawing near for the Orlando Magic. The team made a valiant effort to restructure the organization as best they could to change recent franchise misfortunes. With many player changes, expect to see the Orlando Magic use situational lineups this season.

The Orlando Magic have options with who to play this upcoming season. The team added seven new players this off-season to improve their erratic, inconsistent play from a year ago. Options on who to play and when to play them was put on a limitation because of the roster and personnel injuries.

That will not be the case this season.

If the regular season follows a similar path of the preseason, the Vogel will continue to put his players in a position of trust — earned trust. Certain situations have allowed players to show they have earned the right to have their number called upon.

When the Magic find themselves in live game situations, they will need to know exactly which players give them the best opportunity to be successful.

Approaching opening day against the visiting Miami Heat, we will analyze the best situational lineups for the Orlando Magic this upcoming season.

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Early Orlando Magic Individual Awards Predictions

At this point in the season, the Orlando Magic are considered one of the bottom tier teams in the league. Because of the past few seasons, not many are familiar with the players on the Magic roster which makes it hard for them to compete for individual awards.

Lack of nationally televised games also has a role in the player’s popularity. But the biggest reason the Orlando Magic players get left out of individual awards talk is lack of winning.

This past season the NBA held its first player awards show and not one Magic player was nominated for anything. It’s hard to believe that Aaron Gordon did not have a dunk worthy of a nomination. Aside from the dunk of the year or assist of the year the Orlando Magic are not even thought of for the major awards in order for that to change the team has to get better and win.

These early awards predictions show how this team needs to play in order to progress and finally realize their potential.

Most Valuable Player

Elfrid Payton

Elfrid Payton will be the driving force of the Orlando Magic if they are going to be successful.  On the offensive end, he has to run the offense and get guys into the right place. The second half of the season Payton showed that he is capable of getting to the basket as well as finding the open man. As has been said every season since he entered the league, Payton must improve his shooting. If Elfrid Payton can get opponents to respect his jump shot he becomes much more of a threat.

On the defensive end, Payton has shown the ability to be pesky. When he is giving his all on defense the rest of the team’s intensity is ratcheted up a notch. The NBA has become a guard-heavy league.  Payton will be tasked with putting pressure on opponents primary ball handler in most situations. Being able to disrupt the flow of an offense and cause turnovers on the perimeter will keep the Magic competitive.

Most Improved Player

Mario Hezonja

Mario Hezonja has to be better this season. Having consistency in the coaching staff has helped Hezonja to know his role on the team. No longer wondering how he fits in Mario will return this season playing with confidence. On an Orlando Magic team that lacks shooting Hezonja only needs to provide a consistent deep threat to be effective. Hezonja is capable of being the teams best shooter. He most likely will not begin the season as a starter but says that is one of his goals. Starting at one of the wing positions is a lofty goal and if Hezonja can keep opponents honest with the three ball, he might get a chance.

Hezonja is capable of being the teams best shooter. He most likely will not begin the season as a starter but says that is one of his goals. Starting at one of the wing positions is a lofty goal and if Hezonja can keep opponents honest with the three ball, he might get a chance.

Defensive Player of the Year

Aaron Gordon

Aaron Gordon was undoubtedly the Orlando Magic’s best defender last season. Because if his versatility Gordon will be asked to cover opponents best scoring threat no matter what their position(for the most part). If the Orlando Magic are going to be a playoff contender Gordon will need to be a lockdown defender.

Aside from being the best defender for the Magic, Gordon needs to be good enough to get in the DPOY conversation for the entire NBA.

Newcomer of the Year

Jonathon Simmons

The addition of Jonathon Simmons gives the Orlando Magic exactly what they were missing during this entire rebuild. Simmons brings attitude and accountability to the team. Coming from a winning organization in the San Antonio Spurs Simmons knows what it takes to be a championship contender.

Simmons is a hard worker and will push the rest of the team to get better. Whether he ends up a starter or comes off the bench Simmons’ grit will be important to the Magic. He wants to be a superstar in this league. If Jonathon Simmons continues to play at a high level like he did in the playoffs he will help the Magic get to where they want to go.

Sixth Man of the Year

Jonathan Isaac

Jonathan Isaac will be brought along slowly in his rookie season. The Magic are switching Isaac between the small forward and power forward positions to take advantage of his length and athletism. At the beginning of the season, Orlando will only need Isaac to contribute with defense and rebounding. As the season progresses his role on the offensive end will get more defined.

Because of his size and agility, Isaac can be inserted into the lineup for any player positions 2-5. He may not be the first man off the bench. The depth at shooting guard and small forward will likely lead to one of the wings being the sixth man to start the season. Once Isaac gets comfortable with the NBA game he will be easy to bring in to relieve anyone if he hasn’t already grabbed a starting job.

If the Magic can get these types of contributions from each of these players they will be in the playoff hunt. Even more importantly the Orlando Magic will have a base to build on the future of their organization.




The Orlando Magic Are Taking This Upcoming Season Day By Day

The Orlando Magic failed to make the playoffs last season and that was a disappointment. This year, no one within the organization will make any promise —even if making the playoffs are the expectation.

Orlando Magic fans want to hear playoff aspirations echoing throughout the city. They want signs that the rebuild is almost over. But they won’t receive those sentiments from the Magic organization this time around.

The consensus from everyone within the Orlando Magic organization is this process is still a — process.

Several Magic players confirmed success this year is measured day by day. Practice by practice. And game by game.

Bismack Biyombo told The Oliver’s Twist during the Orlando Magic Media Day, that last season was a disappointment but this is a new opportunity.

“That’s the beauty of the NBA. We get an opportunity to do it again and do it better.”

Biyombo also stated he planned to be near the top of the list for defensive player of the year this season.

“I’m really excited. I’m really pumped about this year. I feel like it’s going to be a special year.”

Biyombo held back on making playoff promises but expectations are high throughout the organization.

Fourth year guard, Elfrid Payton reiterated the same comments as Biyombo. When speaking to The Oliver’ Twist at Monday’s Media Day, Payton stated the goal was to improve daily.

“Take it day by day. Definitely enjoy the process. Obviously that’s [playoffs] the big goal but definitely.”

Veteran newcomer Marreese Speights, indicated the team had a nice mix of veterans and youth. Speaking to The Oliver’s Twist at media day, Speights stated that sacrifices will be necessary. And made by everyone. He stated those sacrifices are necessary in order for the team to be successful this year. When asked about if the Orlando Magic would make an improvement over last years team, Speights didn’t hold back.

“Oh yea, we for sure going to make a jump. It’s all about leaving the egos at the door. It’s all about sacrificing and competing every day. As long as we do that, we will be good.” Speights said. “It’s a process. You can’t cheat the process. When you cheat the process that’s when things don’t go your way.”

All indications point toward the Orlando Magic remaining humble and working hard day by day. No one is in a rush for short-term success to come at the expense of long-term goals.

Orlando Magic Notes: What is the next step for Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon?

The Orlando Magic are revving up the rebuild engines. If they truly are to turn the corner of their current rebuild process, they will need Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon to cement themselves as cornerstone pieces.

The Orlando Magic believe they have improved their roster heading into next season. The team has added eight new players this summer in an attempt to further the development of the team. They also have tenured players working hard this summer to expand their games. Of those tenured players, Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon are the two who must take the next step in expansion for the Magic to build off last season.

Elfrid Payton

Elfrid Payton had a season of mixed results last year. Payton saw his starting role relinquished twice in favor of inferior players. And twice he was able to regain his starter status. Amidst trade rumors, he finished the year on a statistical increase in points, rebounds, and assists. Payton is the Orlando Magic’s all-time triple-double leader. He trailed superstars Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, James Harden and up-and-comer Nikola Jokic in triple doubles last season at five on the year. Payton did not have the resources needed last year to improve his game. He desperately needed shooters and he started the year with a roster full of big men who lacked the ability to knock down perimeter shots. The only legitimate threats were Evan Fournier and Jodie Meeks — when he was healthy.

Elfrid Payton is naturally a pass first point guard. His strength is attacking the paint and breaking down defenses. He plays solid defense on the perimeter but needs to improve his ability to guard the pick and roll.

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What makes this coming year outlook so different with Payton is his performance after the all-star break last season. The cohesion and chemistry with the starting five improved vastly after the trade of forward Serge Ibaka. After figuring out everyone’s role and how coach Frank Vogel wanted the team to play, Payton was visibly more comfortable and began to play up to his forecasted potential that made him a lottery pick in 2013.

The Orlando Magic have a slew of other capable defenders such as Jonathon Simmons, Jonathan Isaac, and Aaron Gordon to help fight over pick and rolls and screens which should allow Payton to become more aggressive on defense

This summer he has been working with the likes of Chris Paul on improving his game and it should pay dividends for him this year.

Aaron Gordon

Aaron Gordon‘s career has been defined with injuries. Many Magic fans were getting frustrated with Gordon and his never-ending series of freak injuries. It seemed as if every year right before the season started he would endure an injury. Last season was about staying healthy for Aaron Gordon and starting the season on a positive note.

With the addition of Serge Ibaka, Aaron Gordon was anointed as the team’s starting small forward. While he showed signs of improvement as the season went on, he was clearly out of position. After the all-star break, the line-up changed and he was moved back to the power forward position exclusively. That’s where he displayed the playing style that got him to the NBA. Gordon excelled by using his size and athleticism to exploit mismatches. After the break, Gordon nearly averaged a double-double in points and rebounds.

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Aaron Gordon’s shooting woes, doomed him as a small forward. While capable of knocking down the three ball, he failed to do so efficiently. His current strengths, indicated he needed to be close to the basket. Recent indications are for Gordon to become a versatile stretch-four who can mix and match his court duties. The ideal scenario for Gordon is to develop into a more athletic Draymond Green type of player. He is surely capable of affecting the outcome of a game in multiple ways, and Orlando will surely want to see him take a leap in his game this season.

The Orlando Magic Should Experiment with Jonathan Isaac his First Year

The case for optimism

Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon have both been working hard to improve this summer. What both of these guys need is consistent coaching schemes and more defined roles — both of which should occur this season. Coach Frank Vogel still believes in both players being able to develop consistently into their late season forms from last year. The team added competition and veterans to the roster to help develop the young players and reach their full potential. Both Payton and Gordon came into the league billed full of untapped potential and as project players. The coaching staff behind Vogel excel at getting the most out of players. A second year in Orlando will bode well for everyone involved.

So the question is will both players make the splash that Orlando needs them to make this season?

Elfrid Payton Is Poised For a Breakout Year With The Orlando Magic

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.

Pushing Payton

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, Elfrid Payton should do more than just break out in their CARMELO ratings. He should become more of a Tony Parker type of player.

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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.

Orlando Magic Player’s Analysis: Elfrid Payton

Elfrid Payton, Point Guard

Age: 23

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.

The Orlando Magic Problems Start on the Offensive End

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

Shelvin Mack to the Orlando Magic is a stability signing, doesn’t change team long term sight

The Orlando Magic are wadding in the shallow end of the free agent pool. Signing guard Shelvin Mack to a team friendly deal is another step in the right direction.

The Orlando Magic made a small splash in the free agent market by signing veteran guard, Shelvin Mack. The terms are two years worth $12 million according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Mack’s role with the Orlando Magic will be in a backup situation behind starter Elfrid Payton.

Mack played his last two seasons with the Utah Jazz averaging 9.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists. Mack is not the definition of a marksman shooter but he is capable of knocking down the occasional outside shot. A career 32 percent three-point shooter doesn’t exactly get the team to the next level. What the Magic are hoping for is stability behind Payton in terms of defense and running the offense efficiently. Magic team president, Jeff Weltman, reiterated that the team would be very strategic when analyzing free agents this year due to the lack of cap space and long-term vision.

“I think our approach hasn’t changed a lot,” Weltman said following the Magic’s final Summer League game Thursday. “We’ve really looked to take a kind of long view, cautious approach. There is a lot less money in the free agent market this year than last year. The approach we have taken is to kind of wait and see how some of that shakes out toward the next phase of free agency and see what players we can get into discussions with at that point.”

Adding a player like Mack is exactly the type of deal Weltman referred to. A team friendly two-year deal for a player who can provide veteran experience and has had success on winning teams. Mack played for the 60 win Atlanta Hawks team in 2014-2015 and the Utah Jazz this past season.

The best case scenario for Orlando is that Mack can provide players like Payton and Wesley Iwundu, with another viewpoint on running an NBA offense from a veteran standpoint. While not expected to contribute a ton of meaningful minutes on a nightly basis, Mack is capable if the Magic suffer any unforeseen injuries throughout the year as well. Worse case scenario, the Magic move on in two years with a ballpark cap space between $35 and $55 million to start over with a fairly clean slate from the last regime.

Every team needs a veteran contributor to help young players develop. Last year the Magic gambled on veterans Jodie Meeks and Jeff Green to be those mentors but were unsuccessful. This year it will be Shelvin Mack.

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