The Atlanta Hawks have added an NBA-ready rookie to their front court, selecting Adreian Payne out of Michigan State with the No. 15 overall pick.
Payne, an athletic stretch power forward, played reserve minutes in his first two years at Michigan State, but emerged as a polished big man in his final two seasons. The 23-year-old forward shot 42 percent from deep, averaging 16.5 points and 7.3 rebounds his senior year.
Payne projects as a guy who can plug in and play immediately. He’s a very good spot up shooter and is skilled enough to work out of the pick-and-roll. He should pick up on NBA defense a little sooner than most rookies as he’s an aged veteran who developed into a versatile defender at Michigan State.
His downside comes from that lack of youth (23 years old), which suggests he may have a lower ceiling than his peers. If he were a year or two younger, he might have gone in the top 10. Still, his mix of skill and athleticism should lead him to a nice, long NBA career.