Imagine being Gary Payton's son. The Glove was a ruthless competitor in his day, renowned for his defense and ability to talk shit. Now imagine all of that fire coming down to bear on you as a high school junior. Picture dad, the most famous guy in the gym, walking out of one of your AAU games in disgust. Ricky O'Donnell captured the ultimate example of the Gary Payton father experience in a profile of his son, current draft prospect Gary Payton II:
"He was soft. He was really soft," Payton told SB Nation. "I told him, I just told my son straight up -- I don't like your game. I don't think you're good enough to play at the next level or any level. I don't have to waste my time coming here."
The 23-year-old guard is no longer soft. Young Payton is the reigning back-to-back PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year, having led Oregon State to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1990. If you're looking for a tenacious defender at the guard position who won't shy away from New York scrutiny, this just might be the guy. He's faced worse scrutiny at home.
Note: The following scouting report is courtesy of P&T intern Anthony Giuffrida.
Height: 6'3", Weight: 190, Wingspan: 6'7"
PTS: 16.0 | FG%: 48.6 | 3PM: 0.7 | 3P%: 31.4 | FT%: 64.2 | REB: 7.8| AST: 5.0 | STL: 2.5 | BLK: 0.5
Like his father, Payton has a chance to become an elite defender in all senses. He is a thief as an on-ball defender, averaging over three steals two years ago and 2.5 steals this past season. Off-ball he stays in passing lanes and deflects nearly anything close to him. He is also super athletic and strong for his size, and finishes with power above the rim. He shoots a very high field goal percentage at the rim for a guard and finishes well in the paint even with contact.
Payton's jump shot is broken. He shot under 30% from three his first year at Oregon State and barely shot over that mark this year, and his FT% is equally dismal at 64%. His jump shot may be fixable, since his mechanics aren't too far off. His handle will need to improve as well, especially if he runs point.
Fit with Knicks
The Knicks always need defenders, and this kid fits the bill. He plays awesome perimeter defense and causes turnovers frequently, which would help allow the Knicks to run in transition like they want to do. In transition Payton can finish in a flash and with force, and his intense work ethic could help elevate other the other younger talent on the team.
Probability Knicks Draft Him
Payton's draft spot will likely depend on whether teams think his jump shot can be fixed, but he will likely go somewhere in the middle of the second round. The Knicks should seriously consider adding Payton because of his defense and athleticism.