Michigan State | Senior | Power Forward | 6-foot-10 | 240 lbs
2013-14: 28.1 MPG, 16.4 PPG, .503 FG%, .423 3FG%, 7.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.1 BPG
2012-13: 25.6 MPG, 10.5 PPG, .546 FG%, .381 3FG%, 7.6 RPG, 0.8 APG, 1.3 BPG
2011-12: 17.9 MPG, 7.0 PPG, .566 FG%, .500 3FG%, 4.2 RPG, 0.3 APG, 1.1 BPG
2010-11: 9.0 MPG, 2.5 PPG, .472 FG%, .000 3FG%, 2.4 RPG, 0.1 APG, 0.8 BPG
Editor’s Note: Throughout June, Timberwolves.com will profile a series of prospects that could be available at Minnesota’s No. 13 pick, or if they choose to be mobile during the 2014 NBA Draft on June 26. Part III highlights Michigan State power forward Adreian Payne, who is seasoned after spending four years in East Lansing and can bring immediate well-rounded versatility to an NBA squad.
Adreian Payne believes whichever NBA team selects him will be getting the total package. Yes, it’s a safe bet that virtually all Draft prospects will make that claim as they go through their rounds. But when you look at Payne’s body of work during his four years at Michigan State—and you listen to him describe his game and his demeanor—you begin to see why that could very well be the case.
Payne is a very capable scorer both inside and out. He rebounds the ball very well, which has universally been viewed as the skill that best translates from college to the pros. He’s a firm believer in himself and his ability, and he’s continued to improve his game each year in college.
And when you factor in he’s coming from a Michigan State program that continuously thrives at the collegiate level, he definitely has the foundation to make the jump to the NBA.
“They’re getting a well-rounded player on the court and off the court,” Payne said. “Great guy in the locker room, great teammate, and a guy that can knock down a shot and play defense. And you know, that’s something I love doing—playing defense. I’ll do whatever it takes to win.”
That’s something that could very well set Payne apart in this Draft class. There are a lot of gifted scorers and athletes in this 2014 group, but being able to produce defensively is not a universal trait. Payne comes from a defensive-driven program under Tom Izzo’s guidance, and he’s got a 7-foot wingspan that can help create issues for offenses in half court sets.
Payne will be one of the older players in this year’s draft, but he’s continued to improve throughout his years in college and he believes he still has a ways to go. He started playing basketball late, he said, and if given the opportunity he knows there is much more he can give as a player at the next level.
“I haven’t been in the game that long. I have a lot to improve in,” Payne said. “I don’t know everything about the game, and I’m just trying to get better. You know, I got better in a short period of time. Look at me know: I became a great player. So just imagine what I can do if I have more time and people invest more time in me.”
You can see the potential. In his senior season with the Spartans, Payne scored 20-plus points nine times—including 33-point effort against Texas in December and a 41-point outburst against Delaware in the NCAA Tournament. He had six double-doubles on the year and had 13 games in which he hit multiple 3-pointers.
“I feel like he improved tremendously—he had a great tournament,” teammate Keith Appling said. “He made a number of huge plays for us, and you know, things should go well for him.”
For Payne, it’s all about getting the opportunity to see what he can do.
“I think I’m ready to contribute right away,” Payne said. “I think I have a lot of experience. I feel I can come in and play and do whatever it takes for this team to win.”
Payne’s top strength is his offensive versatility. He’s been a player in college that was able to finish at the rim with great efficiency, and he is definitely a decent leaper for his 6-foot-10, 240-pound frame. He can pick-and-pop, spot up and shoot off the bounce. But he’s also a very solid 3-point shooter. He shot 42.3 percent from distance last year, and that ability as a power forward to step outside has definitely become an attractive asset on NBA rosters. He’s also a very good rebounder. Payne showcased he is able to handle contact in the paint, and while he’s more prevalent on the defensive end he did pull down a little over an offensive rebound per game during his senior year. And if you listen to Payne speak or view his trajectory during four years in East Lansing, you’ll see he has a strong belief in himself, he works hard and he’s improved his game each season.
Payne answered a lot of questions about his strength and his ability to pick up schemes in his team’s playbook at the Draft Combine. He responded to the latter by saying the Spartans’ gameplan included more than 100 plays and he was able to grasp all of the different actions the team produced. But as far as his strength is concerned, scouts will look to see if his lower body strength is a concern at the NBA level. He at times will give up ground defensively, and he’s been viewed as a player who fatigues in games. However, part of that could have been due to an undiagnosed case of mononucleosis during his senior year at Michigan State.
THEY SAID IT
“I started playing basketball late, and I’m just open-minded. I haven’t been playing the game that long. I have a lot to improve on. I don’t know everything about the game. And I’m just trying to get better, you know, I got better in a short period of time. Look at me now: I became a great player. So just imagine what I can do if I have more time and people invest more time in me.” — Michigan State’s Adreian Payne on his upside in the NBA
WHAT HE CAN BRING TO THE WOLVES
We talk an awful lot about “Stretch 4s” in the NBA these days, none of whom do it better than the Wolves’ Kevin Love. If you’re a power forward who can score inside, grab rebounds and step out beyond the arc with relative efficiency, you’re someone that the NBA will watch closely because it’s the direction the game is heading in this era. Payne took 104 3-pointers as a senior and knocked down 42.3 percent of those shots. He can shoot, finish inside, and rebound—coaches will almost universally tell you that if you can rebound in college, it is the most directly translatable skill as you head into the NBA. And if you also factor in that Payne collected an average of 1.0 block per game in college, he does have the ability to alter shots here and there. Above all else, Payne has a strong belief in himself—that radiates in the words he says. You can’t underestimate that in a prospect.