The Los Angeles Lakers suffered one of their worst losses of the year at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies, and Gary Payton II might have been one of the few bright spots for the team after making his first appearance in the fourth quarter and attempting to lead a rally.
Payton, whom the Lakers officially signed to a two-way contract on Monday, immediately made his mark on the game after entering.
He scored four points on 2-of-3 shooting while dishing four assists and blocking two shots in his 12 minutes of run. Payton’s strong stint was enough to allow him to finish with a game-high plus-minus of +11, one of just two Lakers (Josh Hart being the other one) with a positive rating in the stat.
That Payton had an impact and saw success hardly came as a surprise to him, as seen on Spectrum SportsNet:
“Oh, great fit for me. Anybody can get the rebound, we outlet and kick ahead. Like, ‘Zo, he loves to kick the ball ahead. So we just get it and go.”
Payton is a dogged defender and dynamic athlete, as well as a pugnacious rebounder who averaged 6.6 boards over two years in the G League despite standing just 6’3.
The Lakers need all of those qualities, and if Payton can help the team get stops, get rebounds and get out into transition to take advantage of his athleticism, they will be returning his praise and calling him a great signing.
As a two-way contract player who will spend most of his time in the G League, it’s unknown how many opportunities Payton will get and how often he’ll get them, but Monday was a promising start to his Lakers career. If the Lakers’ success at finding a defensively focused talent in David Nwaba in the G League last season is any indication of their ability to do so, then Payton’s effort Monday might be just the beginning.
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