Following a particularly wretched start to the 2022-23 campaign — with bouts of futility still recurring — the Golden State Warriors‘ second unit has progressed in a significant way in recent weeks. Since December 25, the Dubs’ reserve corps has actually outscored opponents by 3.1 points per 100 possessions, a number which ranks third league-wide over that stretch.
Along the way, Donte DiVincenzo has emerged as the two-way sparkplug Golden State was hoping he would be when signing over the summer. And before falling prey to a right foot sprain, Jonathan Kuminga had finally settled into a steady role.
Nevertheless, people in and around the Bay continue to pine for the bench mob that helped the team win an NBA championship last season. In particular, Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr. have been missed by Dub Nation.
Fans aren’t the only ones who wish that the Warriors had found some way to keep the pair in-house, either. For his part, Draymond Green laments the fact that Payton and Porter were allowed to walk as much as anybody.
Draymond Green Sounds Off on Gary Payton II Skipping Town
Green recently sat down with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith for Episode 43 of his podcast, Know Mercy. And when he was asked about losing his championship teammates, the baller left little mystery about his feelings on the topic.
“Absolutely hate it, and still hate that GP is not here and to see him go,” Green told Smith. “No. 1, you build a relationship with guys and the relationship we’ve been able to build, you just hate to see that kind of separate… Because in the NBA, everyone’s living their own lives and yes, you stay in touch and all that, but it’s nothing like being together on a daily basis.”
It goes without saying that Green misses what his old running mate brought to the hardwood last season, too.
“Having Gary Payton as a lob threat, cutting out of the corner of GP would stand in the dunkers [spot] like he’s seven feet, and you toss him a lob and he jumps vertical and gets it, people don’t understand how hard that is, how athletic you have to be to do that,” Green said.
“GP’s random cutting, all of those things, what that brought to our offense, I don’t think people understood the value of that as well.”
After offseason abdominal surgery, Payton finally made his hotly anticipated debut with the Portland Trail Blazers on January 2. In five total games with the team so far, he’s averaging 4.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.4 steals in just over 16 minutes per outing.
Otto Porter’s Contributions Were Important in 2021-22
Green made it clear that Porter’s presence has been missed as well, praising his under-the-radar style on the court.
“[If] Otto Porter played minutes… he was going to have seven or eight rebounds if he played over 20 minutes… Otto Porter was great boxing out, he’d go up in traffic and get rebounds, and then obviously we know he’s a sniper,” Green said. “And so the way he shot the ball, you can run the offense through Otto and get good shots. What he brought to this team — it was very important.”
Like Payton, Porter got a late start in his new digs (with the Toronto Raptors) thanks to an injury. And on January 10, after just eight games with the club, he was forced to undergo season-ending surgery on his left foot. At the time of his shutdown, he was averaging 5.5 points and 2.4 boards in 18.3 minutes per game.