Rack up another win for the Raptors 905. It was announced today that their lead guard Gary Payton II has been awarded the 2021 G League Defensive Player of the Year. Go ahead and insert a comment here about following in his father’s footsteps — Payton II is the son of that Gary Payton.
At 28 years old, and listed at 6’3” and 190 pounds, Payton II appeared in 13 games for the Raptors 905, starting three times. He averaged a relatively modest 10.8 points and 2.5 assists, but also an eye-opening 5.7 rebounds and 2.5 steals in just 21.8 minutes per game. For his efforts, Payton II was second overall in the league with 33 steals — including two different games in which he somehow accumulated seven steals, a career-high and 905 record (which, sure, of course!). In all, Payton II joined the Raptors 905 after being selected 15th overall in the 2021 G League Draft, having spent the previous two season in and out of the development league and with the Washington Wizards. For a 905 team that spent time down without lead guards Malachi Flynn and Jalen Harris, it was Payton who was often called on to step up.
Along with Chris Boucher and Eddy Tavares, who also won this same award, Payton II joins the 905’s general manager, Chad Sanders, as an award-winner for the squad this season. And while I may sound like a broken record about this now, it never gets old to celebrate wins by the Raptors 905. The better the franchise is, the more chances there are for them to attract and develop talent for not only the Raptors, but for the NBA. It lends credence to the entire G League development concept, and makes sure everyone knows that the 905 are a destination, a place for players to go to take their games to the next level.
Again, congrats to Gary Payton II and to the 905. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go contemplate my mortality as I consider what it means to have lived a life in which both father and son have played out huge chunks of their basketball careers.