Nov 15, 2013; Fayetteville, Ar, USA; Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin

NBA Draft 2014: Elfrid Payton brings unique defensive tools


At the point guard position, Elfrid Payton’s defense is as good as it gets in this NBA Draft. The 6-foot-3 point guard out of Louisiana Lafayette was the 2013-14 Lefty Driesell National Defensive Player of the Year and a Lou Henson All-American during his junior year in school. Payton is athletic and very good anticipating what is about to happen on the court. He has a high intensity level and very strong fundamentals on the defensive end of the court. Suns general manager Ryan McDonough thinks that Payton has the tools for his defensive game to transition nicely to the NBA.

“He has good length, thin but wiry strong,” McDonough said. “As he gets older he will fill out and get stronger.

“He has pretty good instincts. He got his hand on a number of balls today and used his length to reach in and poke the ball away. I think he would be able to come in and pressure guys right away.”

Another plus for Payton is his young age. The 20-year-old enrolled at Louisiana Lafayette when he was 17 and is one of the youngest players in the draft despite playing three years of college ball.


Payton’s offensive game could catch up to his defense. His outside shooting is nonexistent, having shot 26 percent from three point range and 59 percent from the foul line despite having the second most free throw attempts in the nation last year. He is not a strong finisher around the basket — though he can get there often — and struggles with his left hand. He also had one of the highest turnover rates in college basketball last season, though he was forced to do quite a bit for a squad without very much talented around him. The potential is there for him to improve on the offensive side of the ball.

“You can tell just from our 3-on-3 stuff he’s got a great knowledge of the game,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Makes great passes. His shooting was better than I think we anticipated.”


How will Payton’s defensive game translate to the NBA? It seems like Payton will be one of those guys that needs to use his strength to carve out a successful NBA career rather than focus on improving his weaknesses. If he can be the strong on ball defender that he was in college then there will always be a roster spot for Payton, despite his offensive limitations. Payton does not seem scared of the big stage and that will go a long way for a young man coming from a small program.

“I always play with a chip on my shoulder, but no one is in college anymore and we are all on the same level now,” Payton said.

How he would fit with the Suns

Payton would come in and be the energy guy off the bench that can play defense and spark the team. The guard is projected a late first round pick, so if the Suns were to select him with their 27th overall pick it would probably mean the end for Ish Smith. The 20-year-old would probably see some time in the D-League to work on his shot and his offensive skills if selected.

Tags: Elfrid Payton

  • EarlBlackJesusMonroe

    Excellent pick at #27.

    • 4everis2long

      Yeah EBJM I could definitely see the Suns taking him at 27 as opposed to 14 or 18. I do not think the Suns can take a point guard at 14 or 18 who has a high turnover ratio and is a bad free throw shooter. However I hope someone like the Kings take him with a lottery pick so more talent falls to the Suns.

      • EarlBlackJesusMonroe

        Hornacek started his coaching career as a part-time shooting coach for Utah. He can teach anybody how to shoot the ball. Payton’s T.O.s are generally the result of trying to force passes that aren’t there So you have to love his mindset of trying to get his teammates shots before his own. Remember he is only 20 years old and has continually improved from nobody having heard of him to a first round draft pick. Remember what scouts said about Rajon Rondo?

        Remember all of the remorse in Phoenix giving the Celtics the draft pick in the Brian Grant salary dump?

        He is one of those picks where McD decides on who Payton will be as a player three years from now. He couldn’t possibly struggle any more that Goran Dragic did in his first couple of years.

      • EarlBlackJesusMonroe

        The Magic, Kings, and Bulls all could use a PG out of this draft, Dante Exum, Marcus Smart and Tyler Ennis. After that the Wolves with Flip Saunders coaching could use a new back-up PG for Rubio has he desperately tries to appease Love. The Bobcats no longer have any back-ups to Kemba Walker and might take a look at one. The Lakers would love to buy another 1st rd pick because I don’t believe they are sold on Kendall Marshall. The Raptors currently do not have any PGs under contract.

        Players like Payton and Napier will have a lot of interest shown in them.