On Thursday night, former Michigan State power forward Adreian Payne was selected by the Atlanta Hawks with the 15th overall pick in the NBA Draft. Surrounded by Tom Izzo and Draymond Green and dressed in his suit with pink lining in honor of Lacey Holsworth– he wore it in memory of her because it was something he “knew she’d really like”– the pick came as a little bit of a surprise to the media, as they thought he would probably be drafted lower and behind fellow former Michigan State player Gary Harris.
Atlanta was one of the better places for Payne to go. First of all, coach Mike Budenholzer is a great coach. “He’s from San Antonio’s system,” coach Izzo noted. Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich, a legend in his own right, is notorious for producing great coaches. Also, Payne will be playing under Paul Millsap and Al Horford, two seasoned veterans that have been all-stars before. In addition, Coach Izzo noted, Horford is from Grand Ledge. It’s always a good thing to have a mentor from the same area as the young player. Payne will also get a significant amount of playing time on the Hawks, as he’s their solution to their depth problems at power forward. He’ll be a rotation player, and he’s the only big man on the team with a great shot, so he’ll be utilized to the best of his ability.
The only thing Payne really has to work on before making a big impact in the NBA is his stamina. And according to him, that’s exactly what he’s going to work on in a couple weeks at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League. “I’ll be working on conditioning and strength,” said Payne when asked about specifics.
Overall, the Hawks seem like a great landing place for Payne, as he is in a great system with a lot of really good veterans to mentor him.