The question has been posed on Twitter and discussed among writers who cover Michigan State, after Adreian Payne made his decision to return for his senior season at MSU:
Who would the Spartans be better with next season, Payne or Jabari Parker?
Parker, the nation’s most publicized recruit in the 2013 class (and in several years), chose Duke over MSU in December.
It’s a futile exercise. Payne is staying. Parker isn’t coming. And the two aren’t related, as far as I know.
But it is interesting to think about. Because, in some ways, Payne’s decision to come back was akin to MSU landing a one-and-done caliber recruit and an almost certain NBA first-round draft pick next year.
While having both Payne and Parker for next season would have been ideal, viewing Payne’s return alone as an addition makes MSU’s 2013 class look pretty good. Add Gary Harris to this mix and the players the Spartans have on next season’s roster that they nearly didn’t create a better April than any signing day could produce.
But let’s just compare Payne to Parker and only in terms of impact next season.
Who would you rather have?
I’d take Payne for this MSU roster. Because there is no other NBA-caliber big man on it. Parker, at 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds, is considered more of a wing-4 than a true power forward, similar to Branden Dawson. Even if he’s better than Dawson immediately, the difference between Parker and Dawson isn’t as severe as Payne to the rest of MSU’s bigs.
And Payne has been through Big Ten battles, performed well in the postseason, taken his lumps during his career and emerged a seasoned borderline star. He brings the value of three years of college basketball living and, importantly, hasn’t reached his ceiling. That’s critical here, because choosing Payne over Parker is chancing that Parker isn’t the next Carmelo Anthony.
If I thought Payne would stand still as a player, I’d probably go the other way. But I don’t. This is the first offseason Payne has entered with such an array of skills, the first opportunity he’s had to put it all together, and he knows the NBA is watching.
There may be future recruiting ramifications that favor one or the other, though I tend to think winning helps recruiting most.
So, how do you see it? Payne or Parker?