The defending champion Golden State Warriors have had a very up-and-down season. The Steph Curry-led bunch has been dynamite at home, and atrocious on the road.
After their win against the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, the Warriors were among the league’s best at home, at 30-7. But, they are a putrid 9-29 on the road.
And, in basketball, they often say that defense travels. That’s a problem for the Warriors, who are simply not a great defensive team, especially against guards. Curry was never an elite defender, but he used to be pretty good and simply isn’t anymore. Klay Thompson isn’t the same defender after his torn Achilles a few years ago, and Andrew Wiggins has been missing in action for 17 games due to unspecified personal reasons. That makes them really susceptible against good guards. And, in the Western Conference, you’re going to have to get through some great perimeter scorers like Devin Booker, Ja Morant, DeAaron Fox, and Luka Dončić.
One piece that hasn’t been available is Gary Payton II. Payton II, the son of Hall of Fame point guard Gary Payton, was a huge piece for last year’s championship-winning team, before joining the Portland Trail Blazers in the offseason. But, the Warriors acquired him back from the Blazers in February, only for him to come over with an abdominal injury. He’s yet to make his debut, but that’s going to change very soon.
Gary Payton II is probable for tomorrow's game after practicing today. He'll warmup with the intention of playing against the Timberwolves
— Dalton Johnson (@DaltonJ_Johnson) March 25, 2023
This will be a huge boost for the Warriors. Like his dad, Payton is a sensational perimeter defender, which is exactly what the Warriors need. He brings some three-point shooting as well, as he shot 36% last year for Golden State and was at 53% in 17 games this year. That’s just the kind of late-season addition they needed to try to repeat as champions.