Film Room: Elfrid Payton on Defense

What makes Magic point guard valuable defender?

By Josh Cohen
Sept. 1, 2015

Even when he is unable to elude or fight through a screen, Elfrid Payton is quick to switch on defense. He has terrific court awareness and swiftly spots the open man. In the play featured below, a hard screen set by Paul Millsap catches Payton. Unable to fight through it and stick with his man, Kyle Korver, Payton finds DeMarre Carroll open on the wing, forces him baseline and strips the ball away from him for the steal. Also, credit to Tobias Harris for calling out the switch. WATCH:

Payton has superb reflexes and extremely fast hands. He makes it very difficult for opponents to deliver entry passes into the post. In the play featured below, Payton forces Nicolas Batum to discontinue his dribble near the baseline. Payton traps Batum and prevents him from making a high percentage pass to Chris Kaman. He subsequently telegraphs the bounce pass, steals the ball and flies the other way for a transition layup. WATCH:

Payton often times passes perfectly. He is already one of the best in the league at deflecting passes and coming up with interceptions. In the play featured below, the Kings look like they are going to score on a fast break. However, with his long arms and speed, Payton (like a football cornerback) chases down the lead man on the break and makes the interception. WATCH:

Payton doesn’t let opponents showcase any fancy dribbling. If they don’t protect the ball, Payton will often find a way to get his hands on it. Payton excels as an on-the-ball defender. In the play featured below, Brandon Knight attempts to dribble between the legs and then behind the back in hopes of escaping Payton’s pesky defense. However, Payton gets his right hand on the ball before Knight can make his move. WATCH:

Payton has an extremely high basketball IQ. He reads plays as if he’s been in the league for 10 years. In the play featured below, Payton notices that Kevin Love was left open after he set a screen for LeBron James (Harris and Vucevic decided to double up on James). Payton yells over to Evan Fournier to leave his man (Dion Waiters) and help on Love. Payton flickers back and forth between Waiters and his man, Mike Miller, which makes Love indecisive. WATCH: