With Orlando Summer League over, we can take a step back and look at the players who were on the Magic’s roster that have a chance to make the team, or at the least, earn an invite to training camp. The first player we’ll look at is this year’s 10th overall pick, Elfrid Payton.
After struggling in the opening game against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Louisiana-Lafayette product settled down, coming into his own more and more as the week progressed. He posted near triple-doubles twice — 12 points, nine assists and eight rebounds against Houston and eight points, 10 assists and nine rebounds against Boston — and showed off his ability to get to the rim with ease and score the basketball in the Magic’s final game against the Pistons, posting a week high 18 points.
While all of this is good, I would say arguably the most impressive part about Payton was his demeanor throughout the entire week. After struggling mightily against the Sixers, Payton came back strong and picked apart the Rockets in all facets of the game. After starting the game with three turnovers, Payton said that he was able to, “settle into the game and limit that for the remainder of the game.” Payton also talked some about just “taking what the defensive gives him” on the offensive end, which shows a great maturity level for a guy who is just a ripe 20-years-old.
Payton did struggle at times with turnovers, especially against Marcus Smart and the Boston Celtics — a game in which he coughed the ball up seven times — but was able to make the right, smart play and take care of the ball throughout the week. He’s a young point guard, so mistakes will happen especially trying to learn an offense and where teammates are comfortable with the ball, so I wouldn’t put too much stock into the turnovers at all.
He was also able to really show case his peskiness on the defensive end, getting into guys and forcing turnovers or simply just making the right rotation to help a teammate who may have had a mismatch, or lost their man completely. He prides himself on the defensive end, and really was able to buy into what coach Wes Unseld Jr was preaching throughout the week about his team’s defense.
His overall scoring numbers don’t jump off the page, finishing averaging just 9.2 points per game, but his ability to keep the offense moving and find others is just what the Magic need. That being said, he’ll need to continue to work and develop more of a consistent jump shot to keep team’s honest, because his driving and finishing ability will only take him so far. After the Magic’s win over the Detroit Pistons, Payton was asked if he set out to lead the event in assists, to which he had this to say, “Not really; I’m just going out there trying to make the right plays, whether that be for myself or for my teammates. If that’s what happens at the end, that’s what happens.”
The remainder of the offseason will be a big one for the rookie point guard as he continues to work and refine certain areas of his game, most notably his jump shooting. While Summer League doesn’t mean a lot in the grand scheme of things, Payton’s solid week should give the Magic and Magic fans hope that he can pan out into a great starting point guard down the line.