This is not all on him, however, as he’s not the only recent Magic draft pick who has failed to live up to expectations (see Oladipo, Victor).
Given that the team has reached a critical juncture and offseason moves suggest they want to move from rebuilding to winning now, how much time does Payton have to prove his worth?
Mar 21, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Orlando Magic point guard Elfrid Payton (4) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. The Boston Celtics won 107-96. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Before delving into the negatives however, there’s still a lot to like about Payton’s game. At 22 years old, he’s leading the team in assists (5.4 per game), and steals (1.2).
Looking at the more basic numbers, his 11.0 points and 5.4 assists per game are right in line with career averages.
So too are the minutes he plays per game (29.8). In Payton’s defense, it is harder to improve if you’re not being given more responsibility and time on the court.
His usage rate of 20.3 percent (right in line with career average) would seem to back this up.
So if Payton isn’t being given more time to shine, it then becomes about being more efficient with everything he does on the court.
This has not been the case either, as his effective field goal percentage of 45.3 percent mirrors last season as well.
One area where there is slight improvement however, is with his free throw shooting. Despite getting to the line slightly less than before (2.4 times per game), his 62.5 percent shooting is a career high.
It’s still not a convincing number, but it is at least trending in the right direction. This is especially true when you consider Payton does he best work when driving to the basket.
Really though there’s much more to like about his offensive output, especially when it comes to jump shooting.
It gets under some people’s skin with how much three-point shooting is spoken about these days, but it’s done so for good reason.
If you can shoot the ball from deep, the floor opens up in ways it didn’t before. Even Walker, the offensive savant that he is, said as much in a recent interview with The Ringer.
Payton is taking 2.4 three-point attempts this season, by far a career high. With a career average of 28 percent (not a good number), you would think at the very least he’s scoring at a similar rate.
Not so, as so far this season he’s averaging 19.5 percent from long range, a truly awful number.
For some context, Marc Gasol, a center who didn’t attempt a three point shot in his first two years in the league, is shooting a sizzling 41.7 percent so far this year.
He’s taking 3.5 attempts so far, before this season he had never averaged more than 0.2. If a 32 year old big man can improve that much, surely it’s not too much to as for Payton to improve slightly in this category.