Obviously the titular question of this article isn’t posed to Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan; we already know what his answer is. As one of my readers eloquently noted last week, Hennigan has a “bizarre fixation to die on Elfrid Payton Hill.”
However, while it is true that Hennigan has passed on opportunities to bring in other point guards, perhaps condemning the GM to figurative death is a bit too presumptuous, because it assumes that Payton is condemned, too.
For all his faults on offense—namely, awful shooting from all areas—Payton is still an above-average point guard. Last season, Payton finished 10th among point guards with 6.4 Assists-per-Game and ranked 13th in Assist-to-Turnover ratio with 2.64, which bested All-Star guards like John Wall, Russell Westbrook, and Stephen Curry. Granted, those guards possess the ball significantly more than Elfrid, but the fact remains that Payton can distribute and protect the ball at a sufficient, if not elite level— and isn’t that a point guard’s greatest responsibility? Perhaps most importantly, Payton finished eighth among point guards in Assists-per-48 Minutes with 10.8, suggesting that more playing time would improve his assists numbers drastically.
Surprisingly, Payton, known for his tenacity on the defensive end, has defensive numbers that are more middle-of-the-pack. Despite his obvious energy on defense—Elfrid must lead the league in face-guarding opponents the full length of the court—Payton finished 15th among point guards in Steals-per-Game with 1.22, 22nd in Steals-per-48 Minutes with 1.99, and 16th in Steals-to-Turnover ratio with .50.