ESPN Insider analyst David Thorpe ranked the top 20 NBA rookies Friday, offering positive assessments of Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon, two of Orlando's three first-year players.
Thorpe ranks Payton behind only Dante Exum, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jabari Parker, and K.J. McDaniels among 2014 rookies, saying the UL-Lafayette profuct "continues to resemble a version of Rajon Rondo, not as flashy but impacting the game in every category except scoring." And Thorpe rightly notes that Payton's raw statistics don't jump off the page precisely because he's a rookie playing heavy minutes at point guard, a tough position to play.
10 games into his NBA career, Payton is averaging six points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 1.2 steals while shooting 32.9 percent from the floor.
Gordon checks in just behind Payton in Thorpe's list. The Insider analyst praises the 19-year-old for "making the adjustment" to small forward "fairly easily" and for improving his shooting form, calling it "cleaner" than it was at Arizona. Overall, Thorpe feels comfortable saying Orlando made "the right choice" when it picked Gordon fourth overall in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Gordon hasn't played nearly as large a role as Payton has through 10 games, but that's to be expected, given Orlando's glut of forwards. Overall, the athletic marvel is averaging 5.8 points and three rebounds per game on 56.4 percent shooting.