2021-22 Fantasy Basketball: Gary Payton II

by Yeon Lee
Golden State Warriors

Welcome back to another 2021-22 Fantasy Basketball Player Spotlight. This week I am writing about the Golden State Warriors Gary Payton II.

These days, it's hard to maintain the roster due to widespread Omicron. Almost every team is shorthanded, and too many players are out because of health and safety protocol.

Now G-League players are recalled to replace those players who are quarantined to meet the minimum requirement of the player registration.

So many unknown or obscure players are being added to replace the star players who are not available. These fresh-out-of-G-League players could quickly disappear once the teams are at full strength, but some players could stay even after all the players are back.

It's important to note that the roster situation is chaotic and unpredictable at this point. We need to be ready to swap players as quickly as we can with a logical approach and statistical analysis to avoid wasting FAAB money or waiver priority.

All data comes from NBA.com and fivethirtyeight.com.

2021-22 Fantasy Basketball: Gary Payton II

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From the G-League to the NBA

Gary Payton II is a bit different from those G-Leaguers. He was hot early in the season but people moved on from him because of his 10+ playing time. Now since the Warriors have no backcourt option besides him and Steph Curry, he's been playing 30+ minutes for the last two games.

His well-known lockdown defense has allowed him to prove himself and he didn't disappoint Steve Kerr. There's an interesting advanced statistic called EPM. It was invented by Taylor Snarr based on Box score and on-off impact.

Despite its box score-oriented equation, it also reflects tracking data. It's not flawlessly perfect, but it is certainly worth consideration when you evaluate a player.

Advanced Statistics Tell Us To Go Get Him

You can see the ranking board here. It is noticeable he's currently ranked at 6th. You might want to argue that his high EPM is from his defensive value, which has no meaning for your fantasy team. However, his MPG was only 15.5. It's almost half of the other players around him on the table.

RAPTOR also regards him as a very efficient player. Since both advanced statistics use BPM as a base, his highly-ranked position doesn't come as a surprise. But, it is still impressive that he has created great values with limited playing time so far.

Of course, it's preposterous to think his production would double up with the playing time increment. But, given that the Golden State Warriors have no one else after losing Jordan Poole, Damion Lee due to health and safety protocol, Payton is going to take a lot more shots to pile up his counting stats.

Furthermore, his +1.4 offensive EPM per 15.5 MPG is already good enough. With 30+ minutes, his contribution would be a big help, especially if you need more steals.

Is He Going To Stay As A Starter?

The answer is probably no. With Clay Thompson close to coming back, he's going to be back to the bench once the Golden State Warriors bring everyone back. But it's not that simple. His shot chart is pretty unique. Look at the below.

 

His extremely dichotomous offensive approach makes him less appealing than pure shooters such as Clay Thompson, Jordan Poole, and Damion Lee at first glance. Ironically, it means he can offer something different on the table.

Stephen Curry's lethal shooting ability always draws the opponents out of the key to guard him, which leaves space to exploit for his teammates. This is when Gary Payton shines.

His cut-in PPP(Points Per Possession) is ranked at 5th in the league with a higher column than the players around him on the table.

His well-positioning and strong frame help him not to get bullied by the opponent big men. When you watch his game, his movement along the baseline makes the Warriors' half-court set more effective for shot creation. 

Conclusion

There are various scenarios about how Steve Kerr would plan on distributing playing time for the guards.

I personally think it's plausible Jordan Pool would come off the bench as a key sixth man with Gary Payton II starting with 20+ minutes until Klay comes back because of his defensive value. However, it's also imaginable he would be back to being a role player with 10+ minutes.

Even though some people look down on Gary Payton due to his lack of jump-shot option, I think he can contribute enough with his excellent cut-in movent with occasional hot-hand nights.

Probably, Juice the orange strategy is the best approach at this point. Squeeze the points out of him until he dries out hoping the orange is juicier than everyone thinks it is.


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