Kerr Makes Definitive Statement on Warriors Guard’s Future

Gary Payton II Warriors

Getty Golden State Warriors guard Gary Payton II defends LeBron James during a game against the LA Lakers.

Without question, Gary Payton II has been a revelation for the Golden State Warriors. After playing 10 games with the club in 2020-21, getting waived by the team ahead of the current campaign, then getting re-upped as a depth piece just before opening night, he has ascended the ranks to become a key contributor for coach Steve Kerr.

In his first two appearances of the season, Payton saw just 10 seconds of action and missed his only shot attempt. Flash forward to now and he has started six straight games for the league-leading Warriors.

Over that span, he’s averaged 14.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals while shooting 62.1% from the floor and 47.6% from deep.

Despite that incredible output, there has been a level of uncertainty about whether he would remain with Golden State beyond his January 7 guarantee date. However, Kerr may have just eliminated whatever doubt remained about his future.

Kerr Lets the Cat Out of the Bag

When asked about Payton’s future after shootaround on Thursday, Kerr made a point to put the issue to bed.

“I’m gonna make that decision right now,” Kerr said, which got laughs from the assembled media. “Sorry, [Warriors GM Bob Myers]. Yeah, we’re going to guarantee him for the rest of the year.”

And just like that, the whole of Dub Nation breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Kerr went on to speak glowingly of Payton’s efforts this season, endorsing the 29-year-old journeyman as a playoff-ready baller.

“Gary’s a two-way player,” the coach declared. “When you are that elite defensively the question then, in the playoffs, becomes ‘Can you survive offensively?’ This is a guy who’s among the league leaders in field goal percentage. He’s got a knack around the rim… Whether it’s in transition, offensive boards, playing in the dunker’s spot and then he’s dramatically improved his three-point shot.”

Finally, he served up about the best compliment possible for a player like Payton, who has fought tooth and nail to make it in the best league in the world.

“Gary’s the real deal — and he’s going to be in our rotation, I think, in any big game.”

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Kerr’s Not Wrong About Payton’s Offensive Game

Defense will always be Payton’s calling card. However, on a team full of offensive standouts, he has low-key been one of the Warriors’ most impactful players offensively.

As of this writing, Golden State is putting up 111.9 points per 100 possessions when Payton is on the floor. That’s the third-best mark on the team and a number that trails No. 1 Curry by less than two points. Meanwhile, his net rating of 14.0 is also No. 3 team-wide among the Warriors’ regular ballers.

Payton is also rocking a team-best effective field goal percentage of 71.5 and averaging 17.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.8 steals per 36 minutes.


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