I originally considered going 2011 Liberty Ballers on everyone and making this entire post a lyrical parody of Cam'ron's "Hey Ma," but I'm not Tanner and don't know if I could do the pink fur-wearing member of The Diplomats justice. After the Heat snagged Myles Turner with the 10th-overall pick for the Heat, my first choice for the Pacers here as a more athletic, better-shooting replacement for Roy Hibbert, I needed to look elsewhere.
Despite turning in a productive 2015 campaign and making just $16 million over the next two seasons, Pacers point guard George Hill looks like a player the franchise may try to move on from, continuing to retool the team after its disastrous 2014 meltdown coupled with its desire to deal Hibbert, hoping to build a contender in the weak Eastern Conference around superstar Paul George.
Pacers president Larry Bird could target a True Point Guard™ here if the above thought process persists, looking for a player that could help both next season and long-term.
Cameron Payne out of Murray State is the latest in now what seems like the annual rise of a mid-major point guard up big boards and mock drafts, the same way Elfrid Payton and Damian Lillard did in years prior on their way to becoming top-10 selections. The chart below illustrates how Payne, along with the two and the Murray State Racers point guard Payne succeeded, Sixers gunner Isaiah Canaan, fared during their sophomore seasons:
|Damian Lillard||2009-10||Weber State||1062||.594||.445||.499||23.2||4.7||4.2|
|Isaiah Canaan||2010-11||Murray State||900||.571||.465||.535||16.7||2.7||3.4|
|Cameron Payne||2014-15||Murray State||1127||.573||.315||.415||25.1||4.6||7.4|
Lillard and Canaan would both spend two more years playing college basketball after their sophomore campaynes, while Payton stayed one more season at Louisiana-Lafayette before entering the 2014 NBA Draft. Payton's efficiency is well below that of the the other three, a mold he's still trying to break with the Magic as a defense-first guard who shoots a Carter-Williamsian three-point percentage.
While he likely won't become the scoring threat that Lillard is with the Blazers, Payne possesses the ability to pull up from anywhere on the court that rivals any NBA player not named Stephen Curry, and he has the potential to place himself in a tier or two above Canaan as a shot-maker at the pro level. His game is more well-rounded than that of Canaan too, as his assist rate of 40.0% more than doubles Canaanball's 18.7% mark as a sophomore at Murray State.
In mentally trying to find a player that fits somewhere in between Canaan's slightly below-average 6th man act and Lillard's quasi-star production, Payne strikes me as a little BOSSY in the vein of #FormerSixer Lou Williams.
Will Payne make his first million before he gets laid? That I'm not sure of, but he luckily doesn't seem to have LouWill's recklessness. His face also looks eerily similar to LouWill's. A more efficient, less-BOSSY Williams with better court vision can be a steady point guard for a long time, likely contributing immediately off the bench or in a starting role if Hill is moved.
After shooting 25% in his collegiate debut against Valparaiso back in Nov. 2013, Cam is a changed man. Look at the range, ma'am. He's got whole new game plan.