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What Gary Payton II Brings to Portland

The Portland Trail Blazers are signing Gary Payton II to a three-year deal worth $28 million. Payton was one of the Golden State Warriors’ defensive specialists. 

He led the NBA in steals per 36 minutes; Payton averaged 7.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game last season. The guard missed a month of NBA playoff action with a broken wrist but was able to come back and help the Warriors win an NBA Championship.

Payton will help the Blazers out where they have been struggling with their defense for the last few years. He is an elite perimeter guarding the quick players and can also cover bigger wing players. Although he is only 6’3, Payton does well-covering players bigger than he is. Payton’s versatility on defense should help the Blazers get better on that end of the court.

The 29-year-old is athletic and can be dangerous in the open court with his jumping ability. Imagine Damina Lilliard running the fast break and Payton running on the wing, looking to finish with a thunderous dunk.

Payton has been able to hit open shots, but he only shoots 35% from beyond the arc. In the Playoffs, he hit 8-of-15 threes, so the potential is there for him to get better. However, with all the attention Lillard will get, Payton will have open that he will need to knock down. As a result, the new Blazer will get a chance to shine in a more significant role with Portland.

He has played seven years in the NBA for the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, and Washington Wizards before finding a home with the Warriors. In his NBA career, Payton is averaging 5.2 points per game, shooting 54% from the field and 32% from three-point land.

Notes: The Portland Trail Blazers have signed rookie guard Shaedon Sharpe. Sharpe, 19, was selected by Portland with the seventh overall pick in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft. Sharpe will make his professional debut for the Trail Blazers at the 2022 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. 

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