• Kory Waldron

Elfrid Payton's Rookie Campaign.

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*Photo via USA Today

There hasn’t been much for Orlando Magic fans to be excited about this year, having a record of 25-53. However, the young group of guys they have put together are really starting to show signs of development. Such as Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, and Evan Fournier, who all are under the age of 25. With that being said, last offseason the Orlando brass decided to trade with the 76ers, who drafted Elfrid Payton with their 10th pick in the first round. Let’s take a step back and look at Elfrid Payton in his college days. Payton in college raised his stats every year, leading up to him declaring for the NBA draft. His last year in college, he averaged 19.2 points per game, 5.9 assist per game, 6.0 rebounds per game, and 2.3 steals per game, along with this he was named the National Defensive Player of the Year.

Now into his rookie season with the Magic, there has been much doubt in how he will develop, because he has a below average jump shot. Currently with the Magic he is averaging 9.1 points per game, 6.4 assist per game, 4.3 rebound per game, while shooting 42.8 percent from the field and 27.5 percent from behind the arc. Now these numbers aren’t eye gauging, nor do they blow you away. The reason Elfrid Payton is in this debate for Rookie of The Year however, is from the post-All Star break he’s having. Payton has recorded two triple doubles since the break which came on back to back nights. He’s averaging 12 points per game, 8.5 assist per game, 5.9 rebounds per game, and is shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from three. He’s raised each category by 2.0 or more, as well has looked more and more like a leader at the age of just 21. Payton has also brought much comparison to point guard Rajon Rondo, who has a similar skill set. Although , Rookie of the Year has been all but given to Andrew Wiggins, who’s having a great season. Elfrid Payton is to not be over looked, and deserves to be mentioned along with the top rookies of the league. Magic fans your losing days are coming to a close much sooner than you may realize. The young Magic are getting better and better as the season has progressed, and Elfrid Payton is leading the charge.

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