Gary Payton II has carved out quite the role for himself in Golden State this season after bouncing around the league and G League for a few years, showing the importance of finding a team that can provide a role catered to your strengths.
Payton is a tenacious defender and a great cutter and high-flyer on the offensive end, which the Warriors have embraced without trying to get him to play a traditional on-ball guard role, as that’s not his strength. The result has been a career-year and an awful lot of people wondering why the hell he wasn’t on a roster in a solid role prior to this season. Golden State is the beneficiary of the rest of the league not being creative enough to put Payton on the floor in spots where he can be his best self, and much of the league has been treated to Payton’s exploits as a dunker as a result.
One of his best so far this season came on Thursday night against the Pacers when Payton rose up, hung in the air, and banged on Goga Bitadze to the delight of the crowd in San Francisco.
It was a ferocious dunk and Payton gave Bitadze a staredown that enraged the big fella, to the point that he got in Payton’s face and then…tried to nibble his nose??!
I wish I were as cool as Gary Payton II pic.twitter.com/mIfalKkrKb
— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) January 21, 2022
It’s hard to tell from this angle what exactly Bitadze was doing if not taking a little bite, but whatever it was earned him a trip to the showers as he was ejected from the game. The best part is how Payton doesn’t react at all to Bitadze, simply scratching the top of his head as a little reminder that he just put one on him, while Goga tries to intimidate him with a chomp.