Scouting Report: Gary Payton II

Jan 17, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Oregon State Beavers guard Gary Payton II (1) dribbles the ball during the first half against the Utah Utes at Jon M. Huntsman Center. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 17, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Oregon State Beavers guard Gary Payton II (1) dribbles the ball during the first half against the Utah Utes at Jon M. Huntsman Center. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports /

Name:  Gary Payton II        DOB: 12/1/1992 (23)   School: Oregon State

Height: 6’3          Weight: 190   Projected Position:  PG

2015-16 Stats (20 games):

16.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 5.5 apg, 2.3 spg, 2.6 tpg, 2.1:1 A/TO (34.1 mpg)

49.6 FG%, 63.2 FT%, 27.5 3FG%, 53.7 TS%, 51.7 eFG%

26.0 USG%, 8.2 OREB%, 18.1 DREB%, 13.1 REB%, 35.9 AST%, 14.4 TOV%, 3.9 STL%




Payton is a very good ballhandler, with the ability to use both hands well, and able to attack the basket, or create space for his shot, in either direction.  He uses an excellent hesitation/change-of-pace dribble to create separation, as well as the occasional crossover, and while he doesn’t always show great acceleration off the dribble, he maneuvers his way around defenders. Payton, a natural lefty, goes stronger to the basket when going to his left, though he is capable of finishing around the rim with either hand. On occasion, he can get a bit sloppy with his dribble, especially if pressured. Payton is a creative finisher around the basket, but he can have trouble finishing against longer defenders, and he has a bed tendency to shoot a lot of his lay-up attempts underhanded, making it that much easier for his shot to be blocked, though, at times, that scoop is necessary to avoid a block attempt.

If Payton can get into the defense, he often shows good body control, with the bounce to get around help defenders, but he does need to avoid heading into the defense full speed with no plan if he doesn’t get to the rim; it’s happened more than a few times where Payton gets caught amongst the defense and just throws the ball out hoping a teammate is there.  Payton is at his best as a pick-and-roll ballhandler, with the ability to find, or create, his own shots or set up his teammates, either rolling to the rim or spotting up on the perimeter. He has patience with the ball, drawing defenders and waiting for things to develop, and making good reads. Payton has great court vision and can be a very good passer, but he can force things too often, and he is prone for getting a bit wild with his passes. Also, he has a bad habit of driving and getting into the air before he knows what he’s going to do with the ball, often leading to turnovers.

Perimeter Shooting

One area where Payton will need to put in a good deal of work is with his perimeter shooting, both mid- and long-range. He has shown some ability to hit his jumper off the catch or dribble, though his form is what keeps him from showing any consistency. Payton has a fairly quick motion and release, with good lift from his legs, but he doesn’t always get square to the basket, and he has an odd habit of moving his legs in various directions while in his motion, or fading away with no defenders really close to him, often causing his upper body to drift as he shoots. When he has time to get set, his shot doesn’t look half-bad, but with the ball in his hands so often, those moments aren’t always there, so he needs to learn to just go straight up and down on his shot.  Payton uses his dribble very well to create space, as well as using screens, especially as a pick-and-roll ballhandler. Payton seems to realize that jumpers aren’t really his strength, so he is a rare guard that goes to the basket more than shooting perimeter shots. Even when he does take a jumper, they are usually reasonable shots from a shot selection point-of-view. One thing he does need to watch for is making sure he is really clear of his man when taking a mid-range jumper off the dribble, as he seems to have some shots affected by a defender right behind him. As mentioned, Payton is left-handed, but he has shown the ability to hit his jumper off the dribble going in either direction. Another area he needs to improve is developing a better short jumper or floater, especially as longer defenders get in position to protect the rim. Normally, Payton will just try and finish around them, but a floater could save him from some wild attempts at the basket.

Free Throw Shooting

Payton’s shooting struggles plague him at the free-throw line as well. His motion and routine are consistent up until the point he is going to release, and it sometimes looks like he is straight-arms the ball as he shoots. Still, he is rarely off-target, mostly just a little long on the attempts, so even some minor fixes should help him greatly.  With the amount of time Payton looks to get to the basket, he really doesn’t get to the free throw line all that often, about four times per game, with a free throw rate near 33.

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Perimeter Defense (On/Off Ball)

Payton has built a great reputation as a defender at the college level, though all is not as it seems.  On the ball, Payton positions himself well between his man and the basket, and shows average-to-above-average lateral movement over short distances, but he can be a step slow to react to his man’s movements, especially changes in direction. Though his lateral movement could show some improvement, he can be very active and has the ability to pressure the ball, when needed. Payton does have quick hands, so ballhandlers can’t get lazy around him, but a simple jab step is enough to get him to clear plenty of space. If he does get beat, he does makes an effort to recover, though he should learn how to play angles better to at least force players into the help defense. Payton needs to work on getting over screens, instead of going under screens or relying on switches to help him, though he does have the footwork to get over them if he doesn’t find himself caught.

Off the ball, Payton is much better, to the point where he can impact games. He positions himself well and shows better movement, especially when he looks to deny passing lanes. He can be caught cheating too often as a help defender, but he has such good instincts, that he seems to know exactly what an offensive player is going to try. Often, he will try to sucker players into throwing long passes by playing off a bit, but he breaks on the ball and jumps passing lanes so quickly, he’s often about to score by the time the other team can try and recover on defender. Payton also seems to look for little chances where he can make an impact, whether it’s just sticking a hand in as a driver goes by, or noting that he is in a blind spot to an offensive player and sneaking into try and cause a turnover. Payton does a good job closing on shooters on the perimeter, though he can sometimes be slow to get out to them.


Payton is an excellent rebounder for his size and position, tracking shots well and having good instincts for the ball. He does a good job getting into position and he goes strong after the ball, sometimes going up against bigger players. Payton is very good at corralling his own misses, and he is a threat to crash the glass from the perimeter, so defenders need to make sure to put a body on him. He does as well on the defensive boards, tracking the ball well and going strong after, or chasing down, missed shots, looking to grab the ball and start the team in transition.


Payton is very good in transition, pushing the ball quickly up court, and showing good vision and passing ability. He can have some issues with control when he looks to get to the basket on his own, but, generally, he is a strong finisher, often giving him a chance to show off his athleticism and leaping ability. If he can develop a consistent jumper in transition, Payton could become a much bigger threat, as most defenders expect him to try and take the ball all the way to the rim.


Payton has made quite an impact since getting to Oregon State last season, and has quickly established himself as one of the top point guards in college basketball. His game may seem a bit unorthodox and sloppy at times, but he has the ability to take over a game on both ends of the floor. Offensively, Payton is at his best as a pick-and-roll ballhandler, showing very good ballhandling and vision, plus improving his ability to make quick reads. He loves to attack the basket, showing an aggressive side that many college point guards lack. Things get a bit more complicated when talking about his perimeter shooting, where he has yet to find any consistency in both the mid- and long-range areas. What’s more frustrating is that, at times, it looks like he can knock down shots easily, but then he will miss his next three or four badly. Defensively, Payton has some issues on the ball, especially in his ability to react quickly, but he can make up with it with his quick hands and smart play. He is much better off the ball, where his excellent instincts allow him to wreak havoc by jumping passing lanes and forcing turnovers in many different spots. Payton is also an excellent rebounder on both ends of the floor, putting in more effort to get to missed shots than most college big men. While Payton has decent size at 6’3, he does need to get stronger. His unorthodox style of play can make his high level of athleticism at times, but make no mistake; he is capable of some spectacular dunks if he gets some space. Payton has established himself as a leader in a short time, and the effort he puts in on the floor can be infectious to his teammates.                         

Draft Value:  Early 2nd Round – #31-40

There is a lot to like about Payton’s game, and I’m sure many teams will realize that he has a lot to offer as a back-up point guard. It’s starts with his defense, and even though he needs to tighten a few things up on the ball, the ability and athleticism is there, and he has a knack for making plays on that end of the floor. Add to that his ability as a rebounder on both ends of the floor, and he can make a difference against second units. Payton’s offense does need work, but he is a capable decision-maker in the pick-and-roll, and an aggressive streak which sees him trying to break down defenses to get to the rim. It doesn’t hurt that his father is an NBA Hall of Famer, but Payton has enough talent to make a somewhat quick impact at the NBA level, if given the chance.

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