When the Minnesota Timberwolves acquired Adreian Payne in a trade with the Atlanta Hawks, he stood tall as yet another young player with tons of potential. After averaging 7.2 points and 5.4 rebounds-per-game in his first season, the forward has subsequently gone on to struggle this season, averaging just 2.7 points and 2 rebounds-per-game in just over nine minute of action per night.
Payne's biggest issue is that he needs to take a lot of shots to be effective and he has Josh Smith syndrome, in that he takes way too many three-pointers and jump shots from the wing when he should focus on his interior play. He was recalled by the Timberwolves, but this latest assignment was the best possible thing for him and his confidence going forward, thanks to three huge games with the Erie BayHawks.
January 27th vs Raptors 905
Payne's first game in a BayHawks uniform was arguably his best showing since his days in East Lansing. He finished with 26 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals off the bench on 10-of-21 from the floor and six-of-seven from the line. His high volume of shots and shot selection in this game are an indication of one of the reason he was sent on assignment to the Development League, he needs to work on taking less jump shots and take smarter shots. Many of his misses came on midrange jumpers in isolation situations. While his shot selection was not the greatest he did a great job of continuing to be aggressive and work for his points, getting to the line consistently and finishing in the paint. Where he was most impressive was on the defensive end, showing his ability to disrupt the passing lanes with his 7'4" wingspan on his way to three steals.
January 29 vs Maine Red Claws
In his second game with the BayHawks he looked much more comfortable, especially in the paint. He finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists in a losing effort. While he shot virtually the same percentage from the floor and still took a high volume of shots, his shot selection was much better in this game. Of his 24 shots taken from the floor only seven were taken from outside the paint — a welcomed sight for Timberwolves fans everywhere. He missed a total of nine shots from the paint but many were due to some excellent defense from the seven-foot tall Ralph Sampson III. While missing that many shots from the paint is not a good omen normally, the fact that he is starting to stay in the paint more often and still stay aggressive is a great sign of what is to come.
January 30 vs Raptors 905
This was by far the best and most complete game he played during his time in Erie. He finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and four steals on seven-of-eighteen shooting from the floor while only attempting two three-pointers. He also made a big impact from the free-throw line, nailing 11-of-14 attempts. What was the most impressive about his performance in this game was the way he filled the box score.
His quick hands on defense, rebounding on both sides of the ball and his passing on the interior not only helped the BayHawks pick up with win but also give him the boost on confidence that he needed.