Player Analysis – Gary Payton II

Player Analysis – Gary Payton II by Amit Tailor

This article was originally featured on

So after a little international flavor earlier this month, I’ve decided to go back to looking at some of the local players. Today’s post is none other than Oregon State senior guard, Gary Payton II. This is our first look at a high major player. And yes, this is a site about outliers, so let’s see how GPII qualifies here. Quick shoutout to Bryan Lippman, who was responsible for much of this work. Give him a follow if you like this post.

Turns out that Payton II was a swimmer in high school even though he lettered 2 years in basketball. Who knew?! So after finishing high school, he spent a year at Westwind Preparatory in Arizona followed by 2 years at Salt Lake Community College in Utah. So right away, we see that despite the legendary name and being the son of the great Gary Payton, Payton II had a slightly different path to basketball. I’m sure he could have chosen almost any west coast school to play at, but chose to go to Oregon State and played 2 years there. He had 2 consistent seasons, but saw a jump in his assists and A/TO ratio. This past season his A/TO ratio was better than 2. We also saw an uptick in scoring and FT attempts as well. If I’m not mistaken, he’s the first player in PAC12 history to win the DPOY award twice, let alone in consecutive seasons. This shouldn’t be surprising – he did post a monster 4.2% steal rate, good for 12th in the nation.

Let’s talk about his measurables. So far he’s been officially measured at the Nike Skills Academy and he came in at 6’2.5″ in shoes, along with a 6’5.5″ wingspan. Put this into his 190 lb frame and you’ve got a solid point guard here and I think he’s got a chance to make an NBA roster.

At Oregon State, Payton played both guard positions, but it’s clear he will have to be a point guard in the NBA. I think he fits the position naturally. He plays well in pick and roll and has a great feel of the game. He can play as a scorer and facilitator. When playing off the ball, it’s clear he grew up around the game because he knows when and where to move. We also see some hard cuts off the ball that result in nasty dunks. Can’t wait to see what his vertical will measure at during the NBA Combine.

So Payton does a few things really well that translate to the NBA:
1) PNR Attacks/Getting in the paint – The name of his game is getting downhill and to the rim. Even though he loves to attack and go left off ball screens, he can still finish plays with both hands. It’s not like going to his right is bad either because he finishes almost as well.

He lives in the paint, and when you look at his shot chart, it’s pretty easy to see this. Almost 67% of his attempts came in the paint, and 79% of his made shots came in the paint. This guy only took 70 3’s the whole year, and I’m sure every team’s scouting report said to play him for drives, but he still got to the rim that much.

We as coaches talk about getting paint touches, and this guy is the best I’ve studied so far this year at getting in the paint and creating havoc out of it. He did a good job creating for teammates out of PNR, but this was also a byproduct of him being able to score with some nifty moves. We will routinely see some step through, spin moves, and up and unders. His touch at the rim is unbelievable too, seeing that he finished better than 60% of his attempts in close. And he’s a great 2 foot leaper, even in traffic or off balance. I could have made a highlight reel of just his wicked dunks.

2) Positional Rebounding – Yes, I love guards that can rebound, and Payton is one of the best rebounding guards in the country. He posts individual rates of 7.7 OREB% and 18.2 DREB%. Just to put the DREB% into context for you, Cameron Oliver from Nevada (who we talked about earlier) had an individual DREB rate of 22.5%, good for the top 100 in the nation. Payton sits at 360, per KenPom. He might be second to Kyle Collinsworth in getting his own misses back too. The one drawback here is that it looks like he’s relying on athleticism and leaping ability to go get the ball as opposed to blocking out. I’m sure he will have to find a medium between these two to rebound against NBA players.

3) Athleticism – See film. Dunks off of 2 feet. Crazy bounce, long strides, quick first step. Monster in transition and with a head of steam.Enough said.

4) Defensive Playmaker – Payton doesn’t guard the ball particularly well and isn’t always in a good defensive stance. Sometimes we won’t see him pressure the ball and this leads to getting beat off the dribble. When defending off the ball, he may not stay engaged and will lose his assignments. If he gets matched up on a bigger player and is outmuscled, he will reach and slap at the ball. Despite all of this, Payton is a ball-hawk and we see high steal and deflection numbers. Payton was also second on the team in blocks. As a pro, he can guard his position and in certain situations would be OK guarding bigger guards and wings. In a really switchy defensive environment, he may be able to get away switching 1-4 and 1-5 just based on a competitive spirit that he brings. The guy is a gamer, and when there is a paycheck or championship on the line, he will be up to the task.

– Athleticism – might lead the country in dunks by a guard
– PNR attacker – lives in the paint
– Basketball IQ – grew up around the game, in his genes
– Defensive playmaker potential – despite all his shortcomings defensively, I would love to have him on the floor when I need a stop

– Non shooting PG – pretty easy to see from the chart too – 31% on 3’s and 29% on midrange despite a higher volume of shots
– Intensity and engagement on defense

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