Cameron Payne Is OKC Thunder Choice at #14

by Fred Pahlke | Posted on Saturday, June 27th, 2015

Payne and Commissioner Adam Silver at the NBA draft 2015



Oklahoma City got stronger Thursday with the selection of Cameron Payne from Murray State in their #14 pick in the 2015 NBA draft at the Barclays Center. Payne gives the Thunder a third option at the point with Russell Westbrook and DJ Augustine currently holding down the point. With the possibility of Westbrook leaving the Thunder (don’t get any ideas that I think he will but) in the summer of 2017 and with Augustine an un-restricted free agent after this upcoming season, Payne is the future number two at the position for the Thunder.

With all the talent in the lottery coming from big name schools such as Kentucky, Duke and Ohio State, Payne was the only player selected from a mid-major this draft. With the NBA’s MVP for 2014-15 Stephan Curry from Davidson, lack of a big name school or suspect competition in the college game is meaning less. As the third point guard taken in the Draft (and lottery) the Murray State Racer was highly regarded by the scouts in the weeks coming up to the Draft. OKC didn’t know if he would have been there at 14 but after Utah’s pick at 12 left Kevin Booker (another Thunder favorite) from Kentucky and Payne the next two, OKC was guaranteed in getting what they wanted. Booker, a great shooter and a tremendous upside, would have been OKC’s pick if Phoenix had chosen Payne.

E Illinois Murray St Basketball

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It was reported late in May that Payne was the man for the Thunder. Chad Ford of ESPN reported that the Thunder promised Payne that he would be their pick if available.  OKC GM Sam Presti displayed great joy in the selection.

“A lot of things that Cam does well translate in terms of feel, read for the game, ability to knock down open shots.  I think there’s a competitiveness to him, as well.  The thing that we really like about him is there’s not a lot of entitlement to him.”

Payne’s confidence was evident with his words to ESPN after his selection, even going third person in his statement.

“I can be the next success (from a mid-major) because I’m coming in with a chip on my shoulder. I’m coming in with no bragging rights at all. I’m coming in to do the dirty work. I’m coming in to do anything to survive and provide for my family. And it’s not going to stop. There is no ceiling for Cameron Payne.

What does Payne bring to the table? His success at Murray State was solid and displayed a superior player at point guard.

Payne was one of the most productive players in this draft class, averaging 20.2 points, six assists and 1.9 steals as a sophomore for the Racers. His 716 points produced were the most of anyone in college basketball, while his player efficiency rating of 30.1 ranked 12th in the nation, per Sports-Reference.

Payne gives the Thunder an excellent facilitator and solid outside shooter on the second unit. He shot 37.7 percent from three this past season, and he finished sixth in the NCAA with an assist percentage of40 percent, which was better than No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russellof Ohio State. At 6’2″ with a 6’7″ wingspan, Payne has the physical tools to potentially be a pesky defender in the pros  (Dave Leonardis)

ESPN’s Jay Bilas comments on Payne.

“He can score. He can shoot it. He’s excellent off of pick and rolls. He comes off, he doesn’t just blast off, he plays with pace and is an excellent passer…That shot needs to be fixed a little bit. He’s a good shooter, but it’s a low release point on that shot. But I think that’s something that he will remedy easily. He plays in the open floor. He is easy to play with. Makes really good decisions. But his combination of scoring and passing is excellent. Good athlete. Has good defensive potential as well.”

Thunder beat writer Daryl Mayberry of the Daily Oklahoman sums up the pick.

Still, Presti did well to upgrade the reserve point guard spot. Once he’s healthy, Payne’s ability to push the pace will be a huge asset under new coach Billy Donovan, who stressed the desire to play fast during his introductory press conference. Payne should eventually replace Augustin, who will be a free agent next summer, and could form an exciting tandem with Westbrook in two-point guard sets.






About the Author

Oklahoma native has viewed over 10,000 sporting events in his 61 years. A season ticket holder of the Oklahoma City Thunder and expert in both professional and college basketball and football. A graduate of Oklahoma City University. Elementary School Principal in the Oklahoma City Public Schools for 31 years.

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