Leading up to the draft, prospects are provided the opportunity to raise their draft stock based on how they play in workouts and based on Chad Ford’s assertions, Elfrid Payton of Louisiana-Lafayette seems to be doing just that.
I think Smart still has the lead over the other two and is most likely to be the second point guard taken, after Dante Exum. Depending on where Exum goes, Smart could go as high as No. 4 to the Magic.
Payton appears to be closing the gap considerably — something reflected in Payton’s move to No. 13 on our Big Board. Several team sources said he’s in the mix for No. 8 in Sacramento after a terrific workout there. The Hornets at No. 9 and the Magic at No. 12 are possibilities, as well. I doubt he gets past the Bulls or Raptors in the mid-first round.
Some scouts and analysts have compared Payton’s rise up the draft board to Damian Lillard who did the same in the 2012 NBA Draft, flying under the radar prior to the workouts due to the point guards playing in a less-than-stellar collegiate conference.
Despite the Sacramento Kings reportedly wanting to trade their pick, selecting Payton would be a nice pick at eight, especially with Isaiah Thomas’ impending free agency. Selecting a point guard this early would allow the Kings to save cap space and spend money in free agency to build around Demarcus Cousins as the franchise hopes to fight for a playoff spot next season.
During his final year at Lousiana-Lafayette, Payton averaged 19.2 points on 50 percent shooting, 6 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 2.3 steals per game and finished the season with a 25.2 Player Efficiency Rating.