Former Warriors Guard Listed as ‘Sleeper Bet’ to Win Major Award

Gary Payton II, formerly of the Golden State Warriors.

Getty Gary Payton II, formerly of the Golden State Warriors.

The Golden State Warriors have been home to plenty of award winners over the years. Stephen Curry has taken home two MVPs and Draymond Green has won the Defensive Player of the Year award. But plenty of players that have passed through Golden State have also won awards.

And while those two players are incredible, the Warriors have also produced a plethora of players who could be capable of winning awards in the future. In fact, one of the players who just left them this offseason is listed among those who could potentially win one next season.

According to FanDuel, fans can bet on Gary Payton II to win the Defensive Player of the Year award next season, although his odds are only set at +16000. But according to Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report, Payton should be considered a “sleeper bet” to win the award.

“The NBA waited from 1996 until 2022 for a guard (Marcus Smart) to follow in the footsteps of Gary Payton and bring home the Defensive Player of the Year award. The wait won’t be nearly as long for the next one if Payton’s son, Gary Payton II, has anything to say about it,” Buckley wrote.

Payton chose to sign with the Portland Trail Blazers this summer, where he will likely take on a very large defensive role. Plus, he has a great narrative to win the award.

Narrative Fits Payton’s Campaign

By joining the Trail Blazers, Payton will have the chance to transform what has perennially been one of the worst defenses in the league. If he can do that, it will help shape his campaign to win DPOY.

“The suffocating stopper is fresh off a championship run with the Golden State Warriors and bounced for the big bucks with the Portland Trail Blazers.

“That activity alone is enough to help the narrative-driven voters. Payton should have extra eyes on him after playing a pivotal role for a major-market champ, and now he’ll get a big bump if he can dramatically improve a Portland defense that has rated in the bottom five in defensive efficiency each of the past three seasons (29th in 2021-22),” Buckley noted.

Plus, before Marcus Smart won the award this past year, his dad was the last guard to take it home. That also helps form his campaign. But Buckley also made sure to note that Payton doesn’t need all the fancy narratives to prove that he deserves the award.

Payton’s ‘Top-Notch’ Defensive Numbers

Just because the narrative will support Payton’s case doesn’t mean he wouldn’t deserve the award. His defensive numbers last season foreshadow a great season with the Trail Blazers.

“To be clear, Payton may not actually need any narrative lifts, as his numbers are already top-notch. FiveThirtyEight’s Defensive RAPTOR graded him as a top-five stopper this past season. Basketball-Reference’s Defensive Box Plus/Minus did the same. Dunks & Threes’ Defensive Estimated Plus-Minus slotted him second overall. The eye test sometimes grades him even better,” Buckley wrote.

So, while Payton may not be competing for the Warriors anymore, fans can still support the champion in his potential quest to win a major award next year.

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