With Cameron Payne reportedly leaning towards entering the NBA Draft, I’m going to take a closer look at who he is as a player and how the Murray State guard’s skills will translate to the NBA.
Murray State has produced many talented guards in the past, including an NBA point guard in Isaiah Canaan. The Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year certainly looks the part, with a wiry frame at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds and good length. He’s very savvy at getting to the rim in pick-and-roll situations, while using a variety of ways to finish.
What makes him dangerous at this stage is his in-between game and improved three-point jumper. Payne’s efficiency has jumped across the board as a sophomore: shooting 45 percent from the field and 37 percent from three, after shooting just 40 percent and 34 percent as a freshman.
The lefty is also the most lethal pick-and-roll point guard in the entire draft. He leads all draft-eligible point guards in assist-rate within the first 10 seconds of the shot clock. (see chart) Payne has improved his assist-to-turnover ratio from his freshman to sophomore year from 1.68 to 2.4. He also shoots a ridiculous 45.6 percent on two-point jumpers, 81.8 percent of which are unassisted, according to Hoop-Math.com.
Payne needs to continue to add strength, which will help him fight through screens and finish with contact at the next level. It’ll also help maximize his athletic ability, allowing him to create shots for himself and teammates much easier. He already has the anticipation skills to succeed at the next level, swiping almost two steals per game as a sophomore, but additional strength will help him immensely on defense.
Payne has the makings of an NBA starting point guard at the next level. The impact the pick-and-roll game has had on the NBA suits his style of play perfectly. With additional strength while maximizing his athletic ability, Payne will be a solid two-way player at the NBA level.
Pro comparison: Cory Joseph