Courtesy of Slam
SLAM: What are your plans for the rest of the offseason once the trip ends? Are there specific things you want to work on?
EP: Just continue to try and get stronger, work on my finishing abilities, and my jump shot.
SLAM: Can you reflect on this past season, both in terms of your individual performance and the team’s performance?
EP: I think it was an okay season for me…I picked it up as the season went on, as I try and do every year—play my best ball towards the end of the season. Just try to continue to get better.
As a team… You know, it was a tough situation. You got a new coach [Orlando has had four different head coaches in the three years Payton has been with the team. – Ed.], so it takes awhile to implement a new system and gain chemistry. I think we’re moving in the right direction though, especially with the way we played after the All-Star break.
SLAM: What else makes you confident that you guys are headed in the right direction?
EP: We’re starting to figure each other out. Like I said, implementing a new system takes time. It takes time for coaches to figure out players and how to use certain players. So I think just the coaching staff being able to figure the players out and the players being able to figure out the coaching staff…We finally started to gel a little bit at the end of the season. We were able to add Terrence Ross. I think that was a good addition for us.
SLAM: You had five triple-doubles this season, which was tied for the fifth most in the NBA. Did your approach to the game or mindset change at all?
EP: No, just trying to impact the game as much as I can. Most people think you can only impact the game by scoring. I just try and do a lot of different things, whether it be rebounding or trying to get my teammates involved or on the defensive end.
SLAM: Do you have a favorite moment or game from the season?
EP: My favorite win would probably be against San Antonio [Orlando won that game 95-83. Payton had 10 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals in 23 minutes of action. – Ed.]. We were able to get that win on the road, against a team that doesn’t really lose at home…That was a big moment for us.
SLAM: I read that the guy you looked up to as a kid was Allen Iverson. Why?
EP: I don’t really play like Allen Iverson. I just think that he was somebody that was tough, competitive. He always gave it his all when he was out there. He was someone that was just himself. He didn’t try to be anybody [else]. I thought he was somebody that was cool to look up to.
SLAM: Have you been able to catch the playoffs out there? And who you got winning it all?
EP: Yes, I have been able to catch the games. I have the Spurs winning it. Tough loss [on Sunday], but I still have them winning.
SLAM: I know it’s early, but have you set any goals for next season?
EP: The goal is always to make the playoffs and make a run in the playoffs. That’s always the goal.