Posted: 11:02 am Friday, June 27th, 2014

Payne is Hawks-like, but is he right for the Hawks? 

By Mark Bradley

Props for the plaid and the pink, Mr. Payne. (Jason DeCrow/AP)

Profuse props for the plaid and pink, Mr. Payne. (Jason DeCrow/AP)

Danny Ferry knows what he’s doing, and I haven’t always said that about every Atlanta Hawks general manager. (And I’ve known five.) I don’t doubt that Adreian Payne fits what the Hawks want to do. Strange as this might sound, that’s my problem with them picking Adreian Payne.

If you’d asked me at noon Thursday, “Among players apt to be available at No. 15, who’s most Hawks-like?”, I’d have said Adreian Payne. He’s big and he can shoot 3-pointers. The Hawks like their big guys to shoot 3-pointers. Paul Millsap does it. Pero Antic does it. Mike Scott does it. Even Al Horford hoisted 11 treys in the 29 games before he got hurt, the same Al Horford who’d tried 18 in his first six NBA seasons.

By design, this is what the Hawks have become — a team that spaces the floor and values shooting above every other skill. (Not that they aren’t high on passing.) Coach Mike Budenholzer is believed to be even a bigger proponent of shooting than Ferry, which is saying something. As we know, Ferry and Budenholzer apprenticed in San Antonio, the organization that wrote the pilot film on NBA floor-spacing, and we can’t say the Spurs’ Way doesn’t work. It just won an NBA title.

But I keep recalling the Hawks’ Round 1 loss to Indiana, which was very nearly a Round 1 upset of a No. 1 seed. The Hawks had better shooters at four of the five starting positions, and it took Indiana two weeks to get the Hawks’ shooters to miss. (Or maybe the shooters’ arms just got tired. Whatever the cause, the Hawks missed 59 of 79 treys in Games 6 and 7.) The Hawks were the smarter and more skilled team, but they lost in seven games.

(OK, so maybe they’d have won with Horford. Then again, they wouldn’t have been a No. 8 seed with Horford.)

What became clear in Game 6 and especially Game 7 was that smarts and shooting, as laudable as those qualities are, had their limits. Even in their addled state, the Pacers were bigger and faster. At shooting guard and small forward, the Hawks had Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll, two proud pros who weren’t starting for their previous employers. The Pacers had Lance Stephenson and Paul George, who have their excesses but are massively talented.

In a conversation Tuesday morning, Ferry spoke of the system he has built. Then he said this: “But players have to play the game.” Yes, they do. And the Hawks, for all the strides, don’t yet have a full complement of truly talented players.

My hope for the Hawks in this draft — other than Joel Embiid, who was mostly a pipe dream given the Hawks’ draft position and whose broken foot gives me pause — was that they’d exercise the 15th pick on someone who could play a wing and run the floor and lend this team the quickness it lacks. Someone, in sum, who would do for the Hawks what Kawhi Leonard — the newly crowned NBA finals MVP — does for the Spurs. (FYI, Kawhi Leonard was the No. 15 pick of the 2011 draft.)

Instead the Hawks took another big guy who can shoot the 3. Payne does have some low-post moves, but he’s not a great defender. (At 6-foot-10, he blocked only 28 shots in 31 games last season. Indeed, he didn’t lead Michigan State in scoring, rebounding or blocks.) Even as we note that MSU is among the nation’s best programs, Payne’s senior class just became the first not to make a Final Four under Tom Izzo. Let’s also note that the last Spartans to hit big in the NBA were Zach Randolph and Jason Richardson, both of whom exited in 2001.

Again, I understand the rationale: The Hawks chose to add strength to strength. I’d liked to have seen them address a weakness. I’d have preferred Rodney Hood of Duke or Gary Harris, who was Payne’s college teammate. (I wasn’t as high on James Young of Kentucky — doesn’t pass and hasn’t guarded anybody yet.) But the guy who really intrigued me was Kyle Anderson, the 6-9 UCLA product who’s listed as a power forward but who has point-guard skill.

There were doubts about Anderson’s quickness, which is the reason there are also doubts about his defense. (I know this is going against my draft-for-quickness platform, but hear me out.) He’s a great passer and a good shooter and matchup nightmare, attributes the Hawks obviously like. He came to Atlanta for two private workouts, and the Hawks mustn’t have liked what they saw the second time. And other teams surely had doubts: Anderson wouldn’t be taken until the 30th pick, the last of Round 1.

And what team wound up taking him? The San Antonio Spurs. The Hawks’ model. Wouldn’t you know it?

43 comments
Humpyk
Humpyk

Mark,


I think you need to do some home work sir. The Spartans have plenty of player's integrated through out the NBA, and always have ! Most recently Draymond Green with GSW,who has played a major role on that team in his two years in the association. Izzo player's come to the league understanding how to play first of all. They will not play scared ! And they will play with a toughness that this Hawks team lacked as well. Shannon Brown,Mo Peterson, Alan Anderson ,Scott Skiles,Charlie Bell, Eric Snow, Steve Smith.I can go on,and on, and on ! Now some of the guys have been out of the league for a minute.And yes some programs do hit a point where they do not have players in the lottery every year, or even in the first round period. Kevin Willis played forever, and probably could still play :) Payne did not have to block 3-4 shots a game, because the Spartan's play tough team help defense. So players are not blowing by their man every 5 seconds ! MSU does not recruit one, and done type of players.But you can bet when they get to the association, they will be able to hoop.Remember this kid, I think his name was Magic if I recall. Payne is not Horford, or Milsap, different skill set, different value to this team.

Eric1961
Eric1961

Time for Al Hortfords to go. He is great trade bait now that we have the house of Payne

DisgustedFan
DisgustedFan

Payne is a lot like Misap whom I do not think will be around after next yr so he is good insurance for that position. 


The kind of player that will keep the Hawks in the mid tier


Until they are able to swing for the fences and get a couple of genuine All-Star types that is what the Hawk are . 

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I like Payne but he is more of what they already have. But he's still Danny Ferry's best pick with the Hawks - which isn't saying much.

I feel like we drafted another Cliff Levingston in round 1 and a poor man's Manute Bol in round 2.

Columbus68
Columbus68

Yeah they added to their strength.  Perhaps because some of their players with similar skills may not be on the team in 2 years?  I think most people are not looking at the future but just the next season instead and are missing that angle.  In addition to the likely roster changes(at any time) throw in his intangibles, his steady and continuing improvement, size and agility, he looks even better than some he will be replacing. And cheaper.

LostGoat
LostGoat

another role player for the roster---atl needs to go after melo or lebron----they need superstars to win and get fans to the game---pay them whatever they want, even if it takes 40 million per year.  i'm tired of these mediocre teams--i may only go to a few games next year

maconexpress
maconexpress

What I like about Mr Payne is that the guy has a killer instinct. In the nba you have to have a killer instinct to reach the nba finals.

tyger
tyger

Let's keep it real...


Hawks have 16 players, don't want to pay 15...

Who's getting traded?


Payne guaranteed...several others not...

Mack, Scott tendered Qualifying Offers...

Smart money is they accept offers...


Muscala on hot seat...

Patterson like Andre Miller...has shooter's chance... 

Tavares dash + stash...

Nogueria on hot seat...

Antic proved serviceable...


None or all could make roster...

Pencil in 1st rd. pick Nogueria...

Tavares, Muscala to NBADL/Europe...


Schroder, Jenkins guaranteed...

Both promising, young, skilled, cheap...

Add Mack, Patterson to that mix...


Lou Will expiring k, coming off injury...

May be difficult to move b4 Feb. - good!!!


Teague $8M/3yrs., odd man out...

Schroder, Mack, Patterson hold it down...

Lou Will, Jenkins really combo guards...

Making Teague further expendable...


(Spurs model freaks: Parker, Mills, Bellinelli...

combo guards + shooters - Teague not)


Korver $7M/3yrs. premium skill set...anchor...

DMC defensive skills may be kept...


Millsap $10M/1yr may be on the move...

Allstar w/ expiring k is attractive...

Nice piece for re-tooler...Boston perhaps?

Plus, Horford/Payne/Scott/Antic are PF...


Horford $12M/2yrs injured, cant be moved...

Needs to move to PF for health reasons...


Teague $8M/3yr + Millsap $10M/1yr...in play


Pau Gasol anyone? 



Lou, Mack, Schroder

Korver, Jenkins, Patterson

Scott, DMC

Horford, Payne

Gasol, Antic, Nogueria




KennethGrim
KennethGrim

Shooting is good, dumbass.  Every basket that goes down equals points and a missed possession for the other team.  That is how you win.  Ever heard of Larry Bird and his practice routine?

moboman
moboman

Payne is a good pick.  Can help you multiple ways, and can shoot the ball.  Necessary attributes for a team that wants to compete.  For a #15 (non lottery) pick you can't ask for much more than that.  May be the best pick at that level since we chose Josh Smith in the high teens.  The summer league games are going to be interesting.  We got a good group of guys to showcase.

MikeS777
MikeS777

Lets also not forget the Hawks actually defended Indiana very well.  They took Hibbert out of the game on both ends of the floor.  This wasn't a shootout series.  Now you have Horford and two more big bodies coming in that should help the interior even more.

MikeS777
MikeS777

To me this draft says that Coach Bud is literally trying to mimic what he had in SA.  I don't think he wants to rely on 3 point shooting.  He just had to go with what he had vs Indiana.  He knew he was out matched in size, even if Horford was healthy.  So he used his shooters to make Hibbert completely irrelevant.  It was a brilliant coaching move that solidified my faith in Coach Bud going forward.  I dont think they got tired or anything.   That's just the averages working themselves out since it is actually the lowest percentage shot in basketball.

The Hawks right now are just missing a good closer...a player they can count on to get a bucket down the stretch when they need it.  If not for some clutch shooting in the final minute of game 4 from West and George, the Hawks would have had a 3-1 series lead going into game 5.  Also, West hit some clutch shots in the final minutes of game 6 to turn that around.  The Hawks don't have anyone to answer that.  They probably weren't going to get it in this draft either.

MannyThinks
MannyThinks

The draft means that we need to address the SF in free agency. Will cost more, but should be more impactful too.

MikeS777
MikeS777

I dont think this was a bad pick at all.  The Hawks could use some more size.  Horford isn't exactly Mr. Defense, but the he is another big body the Hawks were missing.  Milsap also had health issues.  Also, there's no guarantee Milsap will be back after this year.  I think he's a free agent.  This was not a pick where they were going to wow everyone.  I dont think there was that kind of player in the whole draft.  But with Horford back and now Payne, you can rotate with Milsap and Antic and keep people more fresh.  Also, the Center they picked in the second round gives much needed size.

This is a good draft I think.  I honestly would prefer them to go after specific pieces like this than another "Wing King" draft like Billy Knight used to do.  Knight brought in every 6-7 to 6-9 player he could find and was left with a team full of athletes that couldn't defend or anything else.

USMC2841
USMC2841

When was the last time a Blue Devil lived up to his billing in the NBA?  Yes, they are accomplished college players but other than Grant Hill I can't think of any that have flourished outside of the Duke system.  Need I remind you of Shelden Williams.  We should've drafted his wife before we picked him.

WaltBBall
WaltBBall

San Antonio went for the best player available with the skill set they like, good passing and shooting.  The HAWKS need to have some inside punch, that will be the diff between San Antonio and the HAWKS.  Coach Bud learned a lot from Pop, but he has his own game plan too.

devounknown1000
devounknown1000

STARTERS


TEAGUE, KORVER, MILLSAP, HORFORD, ANTIC


BENCH


LOU, CARROLL, SCOTT, #15 PAYNE, MUSCALA


MACK, SCHRODER, JENKINS


GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

devounknown1000
devounknown1000

Cleanthony was my pick and lasted until pick #34 SMH


He will be a steal in this draft may turn out to be a Star in this league.


GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

cspecial
cspecial

mark, you"re just a hapless sports writer who love to find negative items to write about.if the hawks had drafted hood or harris this article would be negative info you make up about them also.rick sund was the worst GM by far the hawks had but he was your buddy which says a lot about you both.payne was a super pick by danny ferry.you need to move to boston or new York so your negativity will be welcome each day.

devounknown1000
devounknown1000

Payne has a physical condition, he is good for a backup not a starting PF, I like the guy a lot because he have a true heart, but there will be and issue with his condition threw out the year, your talking about playing 82games plus the playoffs will take a toll on his body, there will be some games where he could only give 10min at the most, this is a situation where it will be very difficulty breathing when playing back to back games specially during the entire year, so let see how coach Bud will administrate his MIin.


GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

seminoleking
seminoleking

EXCELLENT article. this is what gets me: the atlanta media and fans clowned billy knight for his penchant for KEEP drafting power forwards...........lol WHAT has ferry done thats different other than bring in a system that works better than the system that mike woodson had?? like you said bradley, you can have the best SYSTEM in the world, but it takes PLAYERS to get you that championship. my first thought when they drafted payne was it was EXACTLY like the move the falcons made when they let john abraham leave ( their only strength in the pass rush and arguably most valuable defensive player) and REPLACED him with osi. the hawks did basically the same thing by STAYING at a level without improving the team's talent as a whole....

BSNBC
BSNBC

The Hawks will always remain losers!

tyger
tyger

Hawks win 2014 NBA Draft

BravoDawg
BravoDawg

Is this the Billy Knight plan? stock up on bigs? we dont need a team full of power forwards, need a REAL center please

Ersatz
Ersatz

The Hawks' second pick made me forget all about this guy.

FokalPoint
FokalPoint

Harris is a good player but we needed a SF more than a smallish SG. I would have rather had Hood or Young but Paine was the best player available so I think it was a good pick.

Hangonsloopy
Hangonsloopy

He's tough and he's a gamer. 


Happy with the pick.


Haven't watched too many Hawks games since Nique and Spud but that may change. 

We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again
We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again

Gary Harris would have made more immediate sense, but this seems like another one of Ferry's moves that was made with the big picture in mind. There's a good chance Horford and/or Millsap could be on the way out soon, in which case the frontcourt will have to be rebuilt. Payne could be a ready-made replacement.


Nogueira is still the guy that intrigues me. I've been watching some tape of him lately, and his athleticism and instincts on the defensive end jump off the screen. If he can become the 7-foot rim-protecting center we've long coveted, that will give Ferry a lot of options for what he can with this surplus of big men.

labo2000
labo2000

Without knowing whether Horford will come back at 100% after suffering yet another upper body injury, and without knowing whether the Hawks will even be able to re-sign Millsap once he becomes a free agent, I would argue that the Hawks' biggest weakness all year was their size.  A second unit comprised of Elton Brand, Pero Antic and Mike Scott as your big men strikes fear in the heart of no one. 


And while Payne can shoot the 3, he's not a guy who will just hang out around the perimeter.  He's a banger, a wonderful defender (blocks are not the only metric here), and a very good rebounder as well.  He immediately becomes our first big off the bench, and a very, very big upgrade over Pero.

mdet
mdet

Walter Tavares must really stink to last into the middle of the 2nd round.

Section303
Section303

I think you will like Adreian Payne more than you think (and, I realize you never said you didn't like him).  


But, if you're going to judge college programs based on the NBA stars they produce, you're going to find there are not many good college programs then.  Outside of Kentucky, what program consistently has star NBA players?  And, just limit the search to since 2000....Also, you are forgetting about Alan Anderson, who has become a solid pro and is an MSU product.


The Hawks shot poorly against the Pacers.  That was part of the reason they lost.  Also, there were silly turnovers, which is a big reason why they lost Games 4 & 6 at Philips (I actually think the Game 4 loss was more frustrating than Game 6).  Payne is a smart player...he will help cut down on silly turnovers that cost home playoff games.


The Hawks are developing a roster full of guys who can do a variety of things.  Agree, that Gary Harris plays both ends of the floor, but he will not stretch the other team's defense as much as Payne will. 

GGee
GGee

How many teams are in the NBA? Now... How many superstars are in the league? Case closed. The ONLY way we get one is to tank or build assets and try to trade for one. We have 2 All-Star types (Millsap,Horford). Can we let them play a full season together and see what happens?? Atleast we got rid of the cancers on the team and bad contracts. Now we can build a contender. Were in a great position. Build it and they will come.

DisgustedFan
DisgustedFan

@TreeRollins 


Payne should be better than Levingston,


As for the Cape Verdean Center, who knows?????


And who knows about that Lucas guy from last yr -- we really do not know much about him

DisgustedFan
DisgustedFan

@moboman 


Teague was a very good pick I think he was at 19. 


But I agree that I like the Payne pick he was the best on the board at the time . 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@MikeS777

"If . . . ."

"Would have . . . ."

Forty-six years without even one Round 2 series win.

"If" and "would have" just don't cut it.

RonMexico
RonMexico

@cspecial And you're just an anonymous Internet troll who wouldn't dare say any of that to someone's face. 


Think about it: On one hand we have Mark Bradley, an award-winning sports columnist who, I'm guessing based on your intellect and writing ability, has been writing for the AJC longer than you've been alive. On the other hand, there's you, cspecial, who can't even have a conversation about a freaking insignificant draft pick without lobbing personal insults and acting like a whiny teenager. 


Relax, dude. You sound ridiculous. 

777-9311
777-9311

@MattP I hope Tavares doesn't turn into another Priest Lauderdale.

PeachtreeBart
PeachtreeBart

@Section303 I still have bad dreams about those turnovers, especially Lou Williams throwing the ball away at the end of Game 6, and of course his unnecessary foul right afterwards.  Hawks still had a decent chance to win if he'd been smarter.

cspecial
cspecial

@RonMexico @cspecial  I bet I will.i always speak the truth. Bradley is a good sports writer but he is against Atlanta.he landed in the wrong city.he once put shane victorino in the hall of fame for making routine catches then unneccesarily rolling over.bradley just writes things just for the heck of it.no facts or truth but to just want to get unknowledgeable fans to respond. he also wrote a racist column about dj Shockley just because he said he believed he could be a starter in the nfl. every athlete should have confidence in themselves.there was no need for what he did..payne is going to make a positive impact on the hawks