There were a lot of people in these NBA Finals, passed through the G League, but among these guys no one fought for a place in the NBA as much as Gary Payton II. While he fought at the start of the season to snatch the… fifteenth spot on the roster, here he is today essential to the Warriors and NBA champion with Golden State.
Last October, the Warriors roster is not yet fully built. For the last place available, the fight promises to be tough between Gary Payton II and Avery Bradley. The former Oregon State was limited during training camp, normal: he was operated on for a hernia in the groin a few weeks before the start of the season. The path therefore seemed clear for Avery Bradley, but the son of Glove is not of the same opinion. The boy fights hard, even if he is not 100%, and manages to scratch this last place of the roster of the franchise of the bay. The guard loves the environment of the Warriors and did not want to leave it at all costs, he even almost joined the staff by becoming a video assistant. As the season progresses, Gary Payton II flourishes and becomes an important part of the Golden State bench due to his crazy efficiency as soon as he enters the field. With 7.1 points on average at 61.6% in shooting over 71 games including 16 starts, Young Glove has established himself as a player and teammate loved by all. For his first career Playoffs campaign, the leader remains on his momentum and is still as devilishly effective. After his broken left elbow in Game 2 of the second round against Memphis, we thought his season was over… But no. Gary Payton II is a fighter and returns for the Finals. He is even as effective as before his injury when no one thought he would be 100% for the biggest meeting of his career. The 1/2/3 position is still valuable off the bench, and the son now has as many NBA titles as his father.
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Before arriving definitively in the NBA, Gary Payton II struggled, and “struggled” is perhaps not strong enough to describe his journey. Flashback. The left-hander comes to the 2016 Draft after completing college but is not selected. After a full season in the G League in Rio Grande, the point guard finally gets his first two-way NBA contract with Milwaukee. After that, back and forth in the NBA are linked whether in Wisconsin or then at the Lakers and in the capital. Instead of chaining NBA contracts with no real outlet, the leader decides to become a full-time Reserve League resident. In 2019 he won the championship with Rio Grande and two years later he was voted defender of the year in the G League, we are last year at the 905 Raptors. After so many battles, the point guard never gave up and fought tirelessly to achieve the Holy Grail: a strong place in an NBA franchise. Passed by four NBA franchises and 5 G League affiliated teams, the 29-year-old point guard is in top form and intends to settle down in Golden State for a long time now.
As someone once said: “everything comes at the right time to those who know how to wait”. But Gary Payton II didn’t wait, he fought hard to earn a respected spot on an NBA roster. After five seasons, Young Glove has finally achieved his goal of becoming a player loved by fans and his teammates. And on top of that, he became a member of an incredible dynasty, that of the Warriors.
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The rise of Gary Payton II, from 15th man to X-factor