It was March of 2014 when Elfrid Payton was leading his Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns into the NCAA Tournament. This season, he is the starting point guard for the Orlando Magic. It has been a whirlwind of a year for Payton, as he has gone from unknown NCAA Tournament darling to one of the best young guards in the NBA.
It seems as if Payton is growing right before our eyes. The former Cajun recently recorded triple-doubles in two consecutive games, a first for any player in Orlando Magic history. That’s a pretty impressive feat when you consider some of the talent to play for the Magic during its history.
NBA superstars such as Dwight Howard, Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, and Tracy McGrady have donned the Orlando threads at one point in their career, yet none have ever recorded two straight triple-doubles.
Payton has had an up-and-down rookie season. He only averages 8.5 points a contest, and has an abysmal 53.2 percent free throw percentage. However, Payton’s play has seen tremendous growth over the last month, as he has amassed double figures scoring in games played from March 6th-20th.
Interim coach James Borrego hasn’t seen this type of play from Payton before. He believes this production can make the Orlando Magic a much more effective team, as he stated to The Orlando Sentinel.
“I do see a different spirit, a different confidence — an aggressiveness that I think is new in the last three, four or five games. “There’s something different in his eye right now, and he makes us a very dangerous team when he’s in that mode.”
If it weren’t for Andrew Wiggins, Payton might be a strong contender for Rookie of the Year. While his scoring numbers aren’t as strong as some in Orlando would like, the progression he has has made during recent weeks has been nothing short of remarkable.