Adreian Payne, Kyle Anderson Headline Saturday's Workout

by Mark Remme
Web Editor
@markremme

The stretch 4 is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s NBA, and if you’re a college athlete going through the Draft workouts this month you’re hoping to show off your range. Michigan State power forward Adreian Payne is doing just that.

It was a goal of his to highlight that part of his game when he worked out with the Wolves  on Saturday, and he said afterwards he thought he succeeded.

“What a lot of people are looking for in these workouts and what I’m working on is that I can hit the 3,” Payne said. “Make the 3 and extend my range. I think I showed it today.”

In the little time the media got to see toward the end of the workouts, Payne indeed stood out among a group that also included UCLA swingman Kyle Anderson, former Gophers guard Justin Cobbs and others. Payne hit his jumpers (with the exception of a tough stretch in a drill shooting from the elbow at the end), he grabbed both offense and defensive boards, he found open shooters and he played with intensity.

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He’s no stranger to the drills at this point; Payne has completed five Draft workouts and said he has two more lined up. He said his closest NBA comparison is Serge Ibaka, because he’s a stretch 4 that can play inside and out, defend with intensity and hit the 3. And at 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, he’s known as known for blocking as Ibaka is but there’s always the possibility he could add that to an NBA roster.

In the locker room, Payne said at the Draft Combine that he’s a team-first guy who can really add a lot of character to an NBA roster. On the court, he hopes to bring focus and preparedness to the team.

“I’d be able bring mentality, I’m going to definitely play hard every game, practice hard, do everything my coaches and my team needs me to do offensively,” Payne said. “Just be able to stretch the floor and rebound, run the floor and play defense.”

He’s shown that during his time at Michigan State, and he’s leaving that impression on his fellow Draft prospects.

On Friday, Ohio State forward LaQuinton Ross was in town for a Wolves workout and said it was crazy watching Payne develop from a raw, athletic player into one of the best power forwards in the country during his four seasons in East Lansing. On Saturday, he was impressing others on the court with him.

Cobbs said Payne can really shoot for a big man and works well off the pick-and-pop, in space and has a good jab step. And his “mid-range is automatic.”

Anderson said Payne is explosive, and he can finish strong in the paint or step out and knock it down.

Payne credits his background at Michigan State and his high school coaches for preparing him for this moment.

Now, he’s hoping a team will see him as a good fit for their organization and give him a chance.

Anderson Following UCLA Footsteps

UCLA swingman Kyle Anderson has done a little bit of everything in his basketball career, including playing the small forward, shooting guard and point guard positions. Given that he’s 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds, that should tell you something about his handle and his ability to possibly be a point-forward at the NBA level.

Right now, though, he’s  just trying to live up to the expectations set by those who came through UCLA before him.

“UCLA’s produced a lot of great pros, so just having a great lineage from that program and having so many players having success in the NBA, that’s important to me,” Anderson said. “I want to meet that expectation that those guys have for me coming out of UCLA.”

He’s worked with guys like Russell Westbrook and talked to him about the process of transitioning to the NBA level. That’s an example of putting that UCLA connection to good use.

So when it comes to finding a position at the next level, he’s not too concerned. He said he’ll let the team who chooses him decide where he fits best. Offensively, his size and versatility shouldn’t be an issue. It will be on the defensive end that might dictate where Anderson plays. He’s long, but he’s not incredibly shifty.

His nickname is “Slo-Mo,” which he said he hopes more so describes how he sees the game rather than how he moves. All joking aside, Anderson started 70 of his 71 games at UCLA over the past two seasons and was a big part of what the Bruins did last year. He shot 48 percent from the floor but actually shot better from 3—hitting 48.3 percent of his shots beyond the arc.

His strong play was a reason he got 33.2 minutes per game on a team that has two other guards in the mix to be drafted into the NBA this month—Zach LaVine and Jordan Adams.

The three have spent a lot of time keeping in touch during the process, he said.

“I talk to those guys all the time,” Anderson said. “I really enjoyed being teammates with those guys, so we keep in touch, do a very good job of that.”

Anderson said he feels  fortunate he has versatility in his game, and he’s confident a team will find the right way to use his talent effectively.

“I think I can play different positions,” Anderson said. “I just want to leave that up to whatever team I go to. I see myself playing many different positions in the NBA. Just leave that up to whatever coach I go to, and I trust that everybody will make the right decision.”

Quick Hits

  • Justin Cobbs played one season for the Gophers before spending the past three years at California. He said he enjoyed coming back to the Twin Cities for this workout, seeing downtown and Target Center again. “You know, a lot of memories here just from me being at the U…I remember being a freshman, you know, and coming to the games [at Target Center] just watching the games, and then just to be able to play on this floor is an honor.”
  • Anderson and Cobbs have been at about three workouts together, so they’ve developed familiarity with each other aside from also spending two years together in the Pac-12. Cobbs said he and Anderson have a feel for each other and what they are going to do on the court. Anderson said Cobbs is a very good point guard  who really knows how to play the game, can knock and can knock down jumpers.
  • Anderson just came from Utah and is headed to Chicago on Saturday afternoon. He’s done seven workouts and will do four more. Cobbs said he’s doing 12 total workouts—he came to the Twin Cities from Washington, D.C. and will be heading to Las Vegas next before four more workouts this week.
  • Anderson on the Draft workout process: “I heard it was going to be the toughest three months of my life, and for sure it was. It’s been a tough three months, but you’ve got to be mentally strong as well as physically strong obviously. But mentally, you’ve got to be tough.”