NBA Summer League has many uses and one of the biggest is that it allows rookies the opportunities to dip their toes into the professional waters. Atlanta Hawks' first-round pick Adreian Payne talked about the adjustment from college with NBA.com's Lang Whitaker.
"Being able to shoot the ball can translate to anything, any level," Adreian said. "But [the NBA game is] a lot different, the speed of the game, and the players are more athletic. So it's just a matter of you just getting more comfortable out there, trying to find the pace of the game so your shots still come and you're in rhythm, still. So I'm just trying to get my shot off quicker but not in a rush. But just quicker, more efficient, less movement."
Payne struggled somewhat with his shot in Las Vegas shooting just 38 percent from the floor including 30 percent from three-point range. Even with those struggles he looks like the prototypical big man prospect for the Hawks and head coach Mike Budenholzer. Summer League play helps provide an understanding for rookies and for Payne, knowing when and where to get shots is part of the battle.
"They were telling me to get my shots, try to slow myself down, run the offense and let them come. They was coming, they just wasn't falling,"
Payne's best performance of Summer League came in Atlanta's second-round victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. He connected on 7-11 field goal attempts including 3-5 from three-point range.
Payne figures to play a part somewhere in Atlanta's front court picture next season but it is still rather unsettled. Al Horford and Paul Millsap are entrenched as starters. Pero Antic and Mike Muscala are the other center options still on the roster. Mike Scott is a restricted free agent who came into his own as a scorer last season but remains unsigned at this point. If Scott returns then Payne will be competing with him for minutes at the power forward slot behind Millsap.
Budenholzer at times last season showed an affinity for small lineups. At just a tick under 6-10 with a large wingspan, Payne could find himself at center in certain alignments especially if the Hawks opt not to bring back free agent Elton Brand or another big body to back up Horford.