Breakout Guard Is Warriors’ Biggest Flight Risk: Analyst

Gary Payton II Steph Curry Warriors

Getty Golden State Warriors guard Gary Payton II reacts following a win over the Phoenix Suns.

Things continue to be objectively awesome for the Golden State Warriors, who are slated to return from the NBA All-Star break on Friday in a road bout with the Trail Blazers.

Over the weekend, Steph Curry dropped a 50-spot in the league’s annual showcase — netting MVP honors as a result — while Andrew Wiggings made his first-ever appearance in the game. And, on the home front, the team is sitting pretty at No. 2 in the West with Klay Thompson rounding into the form and big man James Wiseman finally nearing a return.

In other words, it’s title or bust once again for the Bay Area’s bounceback crew, and it’s a beautiful thing.

As good as the current situation is, though, there’s a real sense of urgency for the Warriors to make the most of their shot this season. After all, the team’s unprecedented luxury tax situation could cause more than one key player to seek their next payday elsewhere.

To that end, one hoops pundit sees a fan favorite and one of the best stories of the current campaign as the biggest risk to move on this summer.


B/R: GPII Could Be Gone This Offseason


Welcome to the Gary Payton II Dunk Show 🐰Gary Payton II has been living above the rim to start the 2021-2022 NBA season.2021-11-11T21:30:11Z

On Tuesday, Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey put out his list of the biggest flight risks for every team in the Association. It gives us no pleasure to report that he namechecked Gary Payton II for Golden State.

Wrote Bailey:

With all that money committed to the top of the roster, filling out the rest will be difficult. You have to nail minimum contracts, which is exactly what the Warriors did with Gary Payton II.

Now that the word is out on him, though, it’ll be tough for Golden State to keep him on a contract near that value.

Payton is one of the game’s top defenders, an elite off-ball mover and an improving three-point shooter. Any team in need of someone who’ll do all the little things should have interest this summer.

That may be hard for Dub Nation to read, but it’s 100% accurate. With more than $170 million already owed to just eight players next season, something has to give, and that something may be Payton.

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Payton’s Numbers Are Bananas

Payton has attempted more shots this season than in all of his other NBA seasons combined. But if you were expecting that incredible uptick in usage to slash what has been an abnormally high conversion rate, you missed the boat in a big, bad way.

The 29-year-old is connecting on an incredible 61.9% of his field-goal attempts this season. And he has done so despite taking 37% of his shots from behind the arc.

As good as he has been as a cutter, dunker and even in the short mid-range, however, the defensive end is where he really pays dividends.

Payton currently leads the league in deflections per 36 minutes with 5.5. Moreover, his defensive rating of 101.4 ranks second among the Warriors’ current rotation players and is the ninth-best mark league-wide (minimum 40 games played).

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