"Felt good to get the first one under my belt."
Adreian Payne had a mixed bag of basketball results after his first ever preseason game in the NBA. Payne was 1-6 from the field, including some point blank misses at the hoop, but he also grabbed a quick seven boards in his 20 minutes of play, an indicator of his abilities in that much needed area of the Hawks on-court contributions. Also, Payne drilled both free throw attempts and showed nice touch on a pair of assists.
"It's a process of getting better every game," Payne said after the game. Ï felt good, but there are really a lot of areas I can improve on. There's always improvements."
Payne showed every little bit of why he seemed to be a great fit for the Hawks rotation this season. We mentioned the boards, long been an area of growth potential for the Hawks. There is also the athleticism and motor, both of which were on display for the Hawks faithful that attended.
Also, between he and Mike Muscala, they made things difficult for a much taller team inside. Their energy and efforts gave the Pelican big men fits with tipped balls, rip aways and general annoying buzzing around with their perpetual engines running when on the floor.
"That's what coach wanted to do," Payne laughed. "He wanted us to be physical and we were."
Payne can move on now without the nervousness of being on the Philips Arena floor in a competitive game. "Felt good to get the first one under my belt," Payne admitted, and the Hawks fans see a solid rotational big and what he may be bringing to the table next season.
Payne is positioning himself for a role that might take away from the minutes Pero Antic and Elton Brand got a season ago. If Payne continues to fill up the stat sheet with his high-energy play, it's very easy to see how that may happen.