League-Wide Trend Makes Workout Appearance

Ryan Wolf/Suns.com
by Matt Petersen

The NBA is no stranger to trends, especially those involving on-court skill sets.

The most recent fad to overtake the league is the “stretch four”: a power forward who is able to stretch a defense with his better-than-usual outside shot.

Phoenix has made opponents miserable with such players, including Channing Frye (160 three-pointers made last season).

Friday’s pre-draft workout featured a prospect from a similar mold in former Michigan State standout Adreian Payne. Sporting a 6-10 frame and a 7-4 wingspan, the 23-year-old boasts a physique that can more than stand up to NBA-sized big men.

The difference is found in his stroke, which produced better than 42-percent accuracy from beyond the arc last season.

“It started becoming a major weapon my junior year,” Payne said. “I just continued to work on it. Since I’ve been knocking it down, a lot of teams had to cover me different and had to cover our offense different. It opened up a lot of [teammates] and also myself.”

Projected to be a first-round pick by the majority of informed mock drafters, Payne should bring more than just a sweet outside stroke to the team that drafts him.

“You don’t just want a stretch four guy who does nothing but shoot the ball,” said Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek. “You want a guy that can go in the post some, can play inside a little different. If teams want to play with a smaller four, then you can punish them inside. I think Adreian can do both of those.”

Wilcox Shoots, Brown Gets Up

More than seven times per game in college, onlookers would see C.J. Wilcox rise up for a three-pointer.

That may seem like a high number, but it turns into a positive one when taking his nearly 40-percent clip from downtown into account.

“C.J. Wilcox had a terrific career at Washington shooting the ball, came in primarily as a role-playing shooter and expanded his game to be more than that throughout the course of his career,” said Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough.

Oklahoma State’s Markel Brown made his mark closer to the rim, where he was able to exhibit the 43.5-inch vertical leap that wowed onlookers at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.

That athletic prowess, it turned out, translated to the rest of the drills and measurements performed on Friday.

“He was either at the top or near the top of all the 54 guys we’ve had in,” McDonough said of Brown. “He’s an explosive guy. Combine that with the shooting, he’s a pretty intriguing player.”