Elfrid Payton quietly playing the best basketball of his life. The numbers don’t lie.
The former lottery pick and Gretna native came to the Pelicans this offseason after being traded by the Orlando Magic to the Phoenix Suns during the middle of his 2017-18 season for a mid-second round pick — the type of selection might not make NBA team’s roster.
In July, he signed a one-year deal for $3 million — ranking not even in the top 100 of most expensive guard contracts for this season (he’s tied at 106th). He proceeded to miss 40 games with two separate ankle sprains and a broken finger.
Finally, 100 percent healthy and with the reins of the offense in his hands since the All-Star break, Payton is playing a near-perfect example of a player proving his worth heading into a big offseason. The former UL star leads the NBA over the past 14 contests in assists per game (9.6), and that’s far from the most impressive stat related to his performance.
Here’s a deeper look at the numbers related to Payton’s five-game stretch of consecutive triple-doubles, putting him in the history books with a select group of NBA legends.
0: The number of triple-doubles Payton recorded during his three college seasons with UL, despite averaging 19.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. During his previous four NBA seasons, he’s recorded 10, and never more than five in one year.
1: Both Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, the team’s do-it-all stars over the past five years, have each only had one triple-double in their Pelicans tenures.
2: Payton has only twice in his career, outside of this stretch, had at least five consecutive games with at least 14 points each contest. No other time has he had stretches of five games with at least 10 assists or 10 rebounds in his NBA career.
4: Only four other players in the NBA this season have more triple-doubles than Payton — LeBron James (seven), Ben Simmons (10), Nikola Jokic (12) and Russell Westbrook (26).
5: With his triple-double in Monday’s overtime win at Dallas, Payton joined a selective group of five players in NBA history who have recorded streaks of at least five consecutive triple-doubles. That list includes Michael Jordan (seven games), Oscar Robertson (multiple streaks of five, five and seven games), Wilt Chamberlain (multiple streaks of five and nine games) and Westbrook (multiple streaks of five, seven, seven and 11 games).
6: Along with his season-opening triple-double in a win over the Rockets, Payton has tallied six triple-doubles this season, tying the single-season franchise mark that Chris Paul set in the 2008-09 campaign.
8: At the end of regulation Monday night, Payton had just eight rebounds, which would have ended his historic streak, had he not sunk a 3-pointer with 9.9 seconds left before receiving a pass from Kenrich Williams off the rookie’s steal, which Payton turned into an assist and the go-ahead bucket that eventually pushed the game into overtime.
11: Chris Paul set the all-time franchise triple-double mark with 11, which Payton could own down the road.