Guard Cameron Payne is going into his second season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. After his team lost Kevin Durant in free agency, the backup point guard will be counted on to step up his game and assume a bigger role in the team's rotation.
In an up-and-down rookie year in which he had to deal with several injuries, Payne played in only 57 games, averaging 5.0 points, 1.9 assists and 1.5 rebounds.
Most athletes consider getting injured a horrible inconvenience, but for Payne it was a blessing in disguise. In July, he had surgery to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot. During his recovery, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound 22-year-old gained 10 pounds of muscle, a result of all the upper-body workouts he performed when he was unable to use his foot.
As reported in The Oklahoman, Payne said, "I put on 10 pounds of straight muscle. I've never had this muscle on me before so it feels great to have it, to look in the mirror, check out your biceps sometimes. It's awesome. When I was in the boot, I was doing straight upper body. That's what I needed coming into the season; I had to get stronger by any means. Being hurt actually helped me and I'm really proud I got to put on some weight."
Ten pounds might not seem a lot, but weighing only 185 pounds in a league replete with big guys protecting the basket affects the ways an athlete plays. Since he gained the weight, Payne can be more comfortable around the hoop, shoot deeper and be more durable. He said, "I think it's going to help me a lot, being able to fight through screens better, being able to shoot deeper. Not going to the hole and getting hit, falling and getting hurt easily. I think it'll make me very durable, so I'm really appreciative I got to do that this summer."
Before his foot injury, Payne participated in the 2016 Orlando Summer League, where he dominated, averaging 18.8 points, 4.0 assists and 4.5 rebounds in four games. With his new muscle and great summer league performance, Payne is looking forward to a solid second season with the Thunder.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock