Bulls Season Rewind 17-18: Cameron Payne
Cameron Payne Season Averages:
Cameron Payne, who came over to the Bulls at the February 2017 trade deadline in a trade that saw Doug McDermott and fan favorite Taj Gibson shipped off to Oklahoma City, had a difficult start to his Bulls tenure. He played in just 11 games for the Bulls last season as the 2015 lottery pick had to get acclimated to a new, veteran team making a late playoff push. Then, offseason foot surgery sidelined him for a large chunk of this season, resulting in Payne not being able to see the court until February 22 – almost a year to the day of the trade deadline deal that brought him to Chicago.
Once Payne was finally able to get on the court this season, he was able to show flashes of the potential the Bulls saw in him to bring him over from the Thunder. Working his way through understandable inconsistencies after so long off the court, Payne showed an improved three point shooting stroke, a good feel for running point and the mindset to match the up-tempo style the Bulls want to play.
Payne upped his averages in every statistical category including his shooting percentages as he showed a confidence and feel for the game. He averaged nearly 9 points and 4.5 assists in 23 minutes per game, a solid return. Though he played down the stretch with a Bulls roster ravaged by injury, Payne worked his way back onto the court, played through mistakes and proved he belonged. The Bulls will look for him to take the next step next season and establish himself as a solid NBA rotation player and consistent point guard. Let’s take a look at some of Payne’s best performances this season:
March 17, VS Cleveland Cavaliers (Cavs 114, Bulls 109)
The Bulls went into this St. Patrick’s Day matchup a huge underdog – LeBron James and the Cavs were gearing up for the playoffs and the Bulls were missing Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen – shorthanded is an understatement. Behind a scoring explosion from Denzel Valentine and an all around strong effort from Payne, the Bulls stayed right in this one until the very end, nearly pulling a huge upset. Payne scored 13 points and dished out a career-high 10 dimes for his first career double-double, and proved he wasn’t afraid of the big moment.
Payne Stat Line: 13 points (5-11 FG), 3-6 3PT, 10 assists, 2 rebounds
March 23, VS Milwaukee Bucks (Bucks 118, Bulls 105)
Again matched up with a playoff team while playing shorthanded down the stretch, Payne took the keys to the offense and got the team off to a fast start against a full-strength Bucks squad. He led the team to a fast start and a 10-point lead after one, before the Bucks firepower overwhelmed the Bulls. Payne showed a little bit of everything in this game – he scored a career-high 17 points, hit two threes, dropped six dimes and even had four rebounds.
Payne Stat Line: 17 points (6-12 FG), 2-4 3PT, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal