Adreian Payne’s NBA career finally begins with Timberwolves

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The best thing that happened to Adreian Payne, NBA career wise, was getting traded away from the Atlanta Hawks and to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He wasn’t going to get much playing time with the Eastern Conference’s first place team; who have now pretty much solidified the #1 seed in the East.

Payne was drafted 15th overall by Atlanta, but never broke into their rotation; hence he was traded to the T’Wolves for a lottery-protected first round pick.


Adreian Payne is a 6’10” big body with an impressive wingspan (like Jay Bilas always says, “wingspan wingspan wingspan”) who presented a matchup nightmare for Big Ten front lines while he was at Michigan State, but he has had some issues adapting to the NBA. He had issues even before draft day.

Payne needs to be a more consistent scorer to complement his shot-blocking and rebounding. He started at Chicago Friday night, and put up 6 points and five rebounds in 27 minutes on 3-7 shooting. He had a double-double Monday at Houston, but shot just 4-15 from the floor.

His numbers since coming over to Minnesota are very unimpressive, but remember the starting assignment versus the Bulls was just his seventh NBA game.


“He’s getting thrown into the fire pretty quick,” said T’Wolves Coach and President Flip Saunders.

“I like his aggressiveness rebounding wise and defensively, I haven’t been particularly happy with his turnovers. He’s been too aggressive offensively. As I told him, he’s not the main offensive threat here, he needs to slow down a little bit and let the offense come to him,” Saunders continued.

Flip also described Payne and the recently re-acquired Kevin Garnett as the team’s two best pick-and-roll defenders.

Draymond Green, currently tearing it up for the NBA’s Western Conference leading Golden State Warriors, had a very positive effect on Payne.

“Maybe I use to be too goofy, but being around Dey-Dey really matured me in not being as goofy as I used to be, and being serious when it’s time to be serious,” Adreian Payne said of Green’s influence during his exclusive with The Sports Bank.

Green is the leading rebounder on the West’s best team.

draymond green

Payne also discussed working on his offensive game.

“I think I need to focus now on what is a good shot, what is a bad shot, and think when am I going to shoot it or when am i going to drive it,” he said.

Payne gets the chance to start at Power Forward while 2013 #1 overall pick Anthony Bennett convalesces. Garnett, while he planning to play beyond next year, is not going to be playing 20+ minutes per night. So it’s a good old fashioned position battle between Adreian Payne and Anthony Bennett.


ESPN Analyst Jay Bilas “Payne is one of those guys that’s kind of a stretch four.  He can make an NBA three.  He runs the floor very well.  Put him in the post, and he can operate out of there.  But he’s I don’t know that you see him necessarily as a starter.

“He can start certainly for some teams.  I don’t know long term”

 “Super athletic, but, boy, he really changed his game throughout the course of his four years at Michigan State.”
 Paul M. Banks owns, operates and writes The Sports, which is partnered with Fox Sports Digital, eBay, Google News and CBS Interactive. You can read Banks’ feature stories in the Chicago Tribune RedEye newspaper and listen to him on KOZN 1620 The Zone.

Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)

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