LAFAYETTE — Former Louisiana-Lafayette standout Elfrid Payton was named to the NBA’s all-rookie first team Monday after a memorable first season with the Orlando Magic.
Payton, a John Ehret star, played in all 82 games for the Magic this season, starting 63 of them. He averaged 8.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. His 142 steals ranked seventh in the NBA, and he led all rookies in assists with 533.
“I’m really happy for him,” said Louisiana-Lafayette coach Bob Marlin. “He’s put in a lot of hard work, and he takes advantage of every opportunity. He had a great rookie season, and this is a reward.”
After a somewhat slow start to his career, Payton made serious strides toward the end of the season.
In March of this year, Payton became only the seventh rookie in NBA history to post a triple-double in back-to-back games, joining an elite group that includes Jason Kidd, David Robinson, Magic Johnson and Oscar Robinson.
Payton was also the first NBA rookie to accomplish the feat since Antoine Walker did it for the Celtics in 1997.
“That’s real select company, and I know he’s honored to be a part of that group because he understands the history of the game and appreciates the people that came before him,” Marlin said.
The Philadelphia 76ers drafted Payton with the 10th pick of last year’s draft, then traded his rights to the Magic for the draft rights to Dario Saric and a pair of draft picks.
He vaulted NBA draft boards thanks to a slew of strong pre-draft workouts that validated his body of work he accumulated while leading the Ragin’ Cajuns to the NCAA tournament in the 2013-14 season.
Payton averaged 19.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game in his final season with the Cajuns, and finished his three-year career with averages of 14.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.
“He just took off,” Marlin said. “He had a great junior year, he continued to progress in workouts at this time last year and he winds up being a top-10 pick and had a great rookie year. I think he’s going to continue to climb and have a great career.
“I’m excited to follow him, I’m very proud of him, our university’s proud of him and we look forward to watching his progress.”
Joining Payton on the team were Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins — the NBA’s Rookie of the Year and only unanimous first-team selection — Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel, Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic and the Los Angeles Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson.
Out of the 130 All-Rookie first team votes, Payton garnered 121.
Christian Life Academy’s Langston Galloway of the New York Knicks made the second team.