Gary Payton II
The Washington Wizards are one of the worst defensive teams in the league this season. The perimeter defense is atrocious as the Jordan Poole-Tyus Jones backcourt duo can’t stay in front of anyone. Now picture Gary Payton II in one of their places and imagine how much better everything would look.
In the 32 games he played as a Wizard, Gary Payton II had demonstrated his ability to be one of the best defensive guards in the NBA. And, he has been exactly that ever since he became a Golden State Warrior.
After playing a crucial role in the Warriors’ 2022 championship run, Payton II had a lost year last season dealing with injuries. This season, he looks like he is back to his old self and he is wreaking havoc through 11 games. He hounds the ball, bothers attacking players, forces turnovers, and gets out in transition to get his team easy buckets.
In the 18 minutes per game Payton II plays for the Warriors, they are 13.8 points per 100 possessions better with him than when he is off the floor. With him on the court, Golden State only allows 102.7 points per 100 possessions, a number that would make them the best defensive team in the NBA by a significant margin.
If the Warriors are going to make any noise in the playoffs this season, they need this version of Payton II. Every team needs a player like him, and all the Wizards fans can do right now is dream about having a defender of this caliber on their own team. He will long be remembered as one of the ones that got away.