clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Questions and Answers from a Thunder expert on the new Bulls

New, comments

SBNation’s Welcome to Loud City gives thoughts on Cameron Payne and the others

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Thunder and Bulls made the trade deadline interesting this season, swapping Cameron Payne, Anthony Morrow, and Joffrey Lauvergne for Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott. To discuss what the Bulls will be receiving, we asked J.A. Sherman of Welcome To Loud City to answer a few questions about Payne, King Joffrey and Anthony Morrow. Check out the BaB thoughts on the outgoing players here.

1. Are the Thunder giving up on Payne too early, or do you think they know he's not a starting caliber guard in the NBA?

I'm sure you've all read his scouting report by now. Payne shot up the draft board in 2015 after impressive workouts, with talk of him even becoming a top 5 pick. He was a dynamo scoring guard at Murray State who also happened to have what many considered true point guard playmaking ability, particularly in the pick and roll. That's what everyone said about him - he was a true PnR point guard.

His rookie season was an up and down affair, and he was eventually replaced by veteran Randy Foye in the rotation for the playoffs, but to be fair, that was more about the Thunder's season in flux which ultimately led to...well, you know...But anyway, heading into the off-season, Payne was seen as a key player who would run the 2nd unit and soften some of the blow of watching #35 leave by taking a big step forward in his 2nd year. But then, during summer league, he ended up suffering a Jones fracture in his foot, keeping him out of action for the first third of the season. Since his return, well...this is gonna sound harsh...but here comes the band-aid rip.

I think Cam is a lottery bust.

I think he came in with some deserved hype, but he also arrived via a mid-major conference where he was going against lesser competition. It's true that guys like Damian Lillard overcame that kind of background to become legit pros, and OKC fans were hoping for the same. The problem with Cam is that, unlike Lillard and his quick first step and ridiculous range, Payne doesn't really do anything well. He's not a great shooter, he's an average finisher, and most surprising to me, he's kind of slow in foot speed. He can't beat people off the dribble. But the most damaging thing of all, the thing that makes me really worry about his future, is that he's been awful in the PnR game. He's played with 2 of the better PnR big men over the past year in Steven Adams and Enes Kanter, and Cam struggles to do even the most basic of things, like throw a competent entry pass. Coupled with this, my observation is that he didn't utilize his downtime well while he was rehabbing, as he as looked completely lost on both ends of the court.

It is certainly possible that the injury, combined with this 2nd season of transition, mixed with the mental strain of trying to play well, may have gotten to him. We've seen his confidence ("There is no ceiling for Cam Payne") fall off a cliff. And I hope I'm wrong about him, I really am. But by around January, I realized that there was nothing within his game that showed he had even a basic understanding of how an NBA offense works, and I knew his time might be short in OKC.

But I hope I'm wrong.

2. What does Cameron Payne bring to the point guard position to make up for his inability to shoot?

Ummm...you got any dancers on your team?

https://twitter.com/search?q=cameron%20payne%20dance&src=typd

3. Is Joffrey Lauvergne or power forward or a center, and will his defense outweigh any benefits his shooting brings to the offense?

The man we call Prince Joffrey is a solid if unspectacular post player. He's probably a bench lifer on a decent team, but that's not a bad thing. I think he's a little light to play at the 5 for long stretches, but he's comfortable around the rim. He's not terrible defensively, but he's not going to wow you with it, either.

The biggest thing that we've noticed with him is that he is a competent player, if unspectacular. He knows where he's supposed to be most of the time, he works to set up his teammates, he's a better than average passer, and he does work hard. I have no idea what his market value is, however, and that may become a sticking point as he finishes up his season and looks ahead.

4. Why is Morrow so cold from three this season? What else can he contribute when his jump shot isn't falling?

I think a big part of the answer to this question is to take a look at your former player, Kyle Korver. 3-point shooters that have decades of longevity in the NBA tend to be defined by their freakish routines and dedication to consistency, and Korver was no different. I believe that above all else, these types of players need to understand how an offense actually works better than most, and they need to know exactly where their shots are coming from, and who is passing to them. The combination of all these things allows them to live within their routines, which manifests in the high shooting percentages.

Guess what happens when Westbrook brings his triple-double chaos to the mix? Predictability and order kind of goes out the window. And when that happened, Morrow started chucking up shots whenever he saw a little bit of daylight. As a result, his percentages dropped significantly.

Do I think he's still a good shooter? Yes, of course. But he's a 3-point specialist, so the offense needs to understand that and the coach needs to put him in the right situation to get that shooting percentage back up.

5. Who do you think won this trade?

I think I have to give it to the Thunder, who probably came out of it with the best player (Taj) and a more mobile shooter that they've been looking for. Whether McDermott can grow into a dynamic scorer, perhaps someone similar to maybe a Kent Bazemore kind of player, remains to be seen. Plus, we also know that the Bulls were really interested in acquiring Andre Roberson, and let me tell you, that would have made a lot of Thunder fans sad to see him go. By keeping Roberson, gaining a shooter, and shoring up the (likely) power forward spot, the Thunder took a bunch of steps in the right direction.