The Golden State Warriors are holding an open competition for their 15th and final roster spot over the next two weeks, but it now appears likely that one of the frontrunners will miss significant time due to an injury.
Gary Payton II, son of Hall-of-Fame NBA player Gary Payton and a fixture on the Dubs’ bench throughout the end of last year, suffered a hernia several weeks ago that will impact his availability during the preseason tryout period. Anthony Slater, of The Athletic, reported details of the situation on Twitter Sunday, October 3.
“Official word from the Warriors on Gary Payton II: Inguinal hernia repair several weeks ago. Not a sports hernia. Will be re-evaluated in a week,” Slater tweeted. “Not too far away from a return, but clock ticking on #15 roster spot decision. Avery Bradley has the best chance to win it in preseason.”
Slater reported further that Payton has been limited in Warriors’ camp thus far. He also confirmed that the guard will not participate in the team’s preseason opener on Monday and that the injury will most likely keep him sidelined longer than that.
“An obvious impact on his roster chances,” Slater wrote.
Payton Has Been Considered Favorite to Win Final Spot
In his capacity with the Warriors last season, Payton functioned as a defensive stopper backing up 2-time MVP Steph Curry at point guard. He averaged 2.5 points per game, along with 1.1 rebounds and 0.6 steals in 10 appearances with the Dubs, according to Basketball Reference.
Payton was also a featured member of the Warriors’ summer league squad, where Slater said he earned a slim lead in the contest for the final roster spot.
In an article published September 16 Slater wrote that Payton has long been a favorite of several members of Golden State’s coaching staff and that he remained the leader in the clubhouse for the final seat on the team’s bench. Though, whoever ends up occupying the 15th roster spot will likely serve in the 9th or 10th position in the rotation, Slater explained. That means the designation likely equates to significant playing time throughout the regular season.
It is Payton’s defense that will win him the job, should he come out on top. The Warriors said goodbye to Kent Bazemore and Kelly Oubre Jr. after the season ended, both of whom were called upon to provide perimeter defense in Curry’s stead. Payton would fill that role, which has been identified as perhaps the Warriors’ greatest need, save for possibly a center with court vision.
“The way they play and the way I play, I feel like it’s the perfect fit,” Payton told Slater. “(Curry) will have the ball, so I just gotta cut, make the right plays, hit open shots and continue to play defense.”
Avery Bradley Now Leading Candidate For Final Roster Spot
As noted in Slater’s tweet above, Avery Bradley is now the frontrunner to land on the Dubs’ roster. Like Payton, the veteran’s value resides primarily in the defensive edge he can provide in the role of backup point guard.
The Boston Celtics drafted Bradley in 2010. He played with the Celtics for seven years, but has taken something of a tour of the NBA since, signing on with seven different teams over the last four seasons.
Bradley, now 30 years old, also has a history of hitting the spot up 3-point shot at a productive pace, making 36.3% of his attempts from behind the arc over the course of his 11-year NBA career.