In the NBA, we often see talent on the bench. Some of the players include Phoenix Suns shooting guard Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard Lou Williams and other players. However, there is one player that has not been talked a lot and can produce on the bench: New Orleans Pelicans point guard Elfrid Payton.
Payton has had a rough start to careers, as he was picked with the tenth pick in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, before getting traded for Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Dario Saric to the Orlando Magic. For the Magic, he started with averaging 8.9 points, 6.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds. As he got more experience, his point totals started to go up, and he started to have stats like a well rounded point guard in the NBA.
However, in the 2017-2018 season, the Magic decided to deal Payton to the Phoenix Suns for a second round draft pick, where he played one season with the team before signing with the New Orleans Pelicans, where he remains now. With the Pelicans, Payton is averaging 10.6 points, 7.6 assists (a career high) and 5.2 rebounds on the bench.
I would compare the way the Payton plays similar to the way Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball plays. Both are not really known for their scoring (but they can be when they want to) but rather for their other stats. When they are having a bad night shooting the ball, they try to help their team win by getting rebounds and assists to push their teams to victory. In addition, they both are similar athletically speaking, as well as the playstyles that both players possess The only difference between them is age as Ball is 21 and Payton is 24.
However, there is one crucial part of Payton’s game that makes him a starter: triple doubles.
Though these go unnoticed, Payton is a productive member of the triple double party, as his first triple double dates back to March 8, 2017 when he had 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Since then, Payton has gotten his fair share of triple doubles with the Pelicans, as he joined elite company with players like Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook and Chicago Bulls shooting guard Michael Jordan to have finished with a triple double in four consecutive games, which also ranks him sixth in NBA history for most consecutive triple doubles [via: NBA.com]
There is still one question that remains: where could Payton go?