The effect of Gary Payton II may not even be in the top handful of reasons why the Golden State Warriors may return to their championship form next season.
Even though Payton is a role player on the Golden State Warriors, Steve Kerr can be sure that the 30-year-old will be a big help in bringing back the Golden State way that was missing for a lot of 2022–2023.
A more healthy Next season, Gary Payton II will be a key part of the Golden State Warriors plans to get back to the top of the NBA.
Even though the team re-signed Payton in hopes of a short-term boost, they would have known that he wasn’t likely to have his biggest effect last season. He missed a lot of time at the beginning of his time with the Portland Trail Blazers because of injuries, and bad management almost stopped him from going back to the Warriors at the trade deadline in February.
Once the deal was finalized and Payton got back on the court, he joined a guard-heavy rotation where things often overlapped. Even though their skills are different, it’s clear that Payton was brought back to fill the spot that Donte DiVincenzo was going to leave.
By February, it was clear that the 26-year-old’s play would put him out of the Warriors’ price range. This month, DiVincenzo signed a four-year, $50 million deal with the New York Knicks. That puts more pressure on players like Payton and Moses Moody, who is in his third year as a wing.
Payton may not have been as important to Golden State’s title run last year as he was the year before, but he was still productive enough to show that he is still a good fit for the team.
Kerr saw the value in the 6’2″ guard late in the playoffs, when Game 4 of the series against the Los Angeles Lakers was one of the best games for Payton’s team. He started the last two games, and in Game 5, he had 13 points and was +25 in 27 minutes.
“Young Glove” gives the Warriors the devastating point-of-attack defense they sorely needed during the last regular season. Golden State’s defensive rating was a normal 14th, and Payton playing 15-20 minutes per game should be enough to get them back into the top 10.
On offense, Payton has the right mix of things to do off the ball, even though other teams still don’t respect his jump shot from the corners. Kerr used him as a pick-and-roll partner for Stephen Curry against the Lakers. This worked well because of how athletic he was and how well he could find open shots. The Warriors’ system works well with his ability to cut from the weak side or finish from the dunker’s spot, and his three-point shooting (50% last season) is good enough to take advantage of the room he creates.
Although Payton may not start the next season as one of the top players in the Warriors’ rotation, his role in the team’s defense should not be underestimated as they aim to recover from a challenging season. It’s crucial for the team to reestablish their defensive identity, and having Payton as a part of the lineup is essential for achieving this goal.