Last season, guard Gary Payton II was a significant contributor off the bench for the Golden State Warriors when they won the NBA championship.
His 3-point shooting, defense and explosiveness while attacking the rim gave them a boost, not to mention some viable depth.
He left to join the Portland Trail Blazers in free agency last summer, but the Warriors re-acquired him prior to the trade deadline — only to discover during a routine physical that he had an adductor injury.
Payton hasn’t played a single game for them this season yet, and according to an official release from the team, he is progressing and could return to game action very soon.
Gary Payton II injury update: pic.twitter.com/VvJpxSiPq7
— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) March 23, 2023
The 6-foot-4 guard, who was undrafted out of Oregon State University, spent his first four seasons with three different teams while seeing mostly only spot duty.
He joined Golden State late in the 2020-21 season and appeared in only 10 games while playing just 4.0 minutes per game.
Last season was when Payton finally broke out and proved he was a quality NBA player.
He played in 71 regular season games while putting up 7.1 points in 17.6 minutes per game while shooting 61.6 percent overall and 35.8 percent from 3-point range.
In the second round of the playoffs, he became a victim of what many see as Dillon Brooks’ dirty play when the Memphis Grizzlies forward hit him in the head when he attempted a fast-break layup.
Payton fractured his elbow as a result, and he didn’t return until about a month later during the NBA Finals.
A healthy Payton could help the Warriors make an unexpected run toward a fifth championship in nine seasons.NEXT: NBA Analyst Says He Still Doesn't Believe In 1 Team