The Milwaukee Bucks have wasted no time in filling the roster spot vacated by Terrence Jones, with Gary Payton II reportedly signing as his replacement.
The Milwaukee Bucks have navigated most of the season with only two traditional point guards on their roster, but as the playoffs approach it seems as if the team feels the need to add some extra cover.
Shortly after the Bucks announced they had requested waivers on Terrence Jones on Saturday afternoon, Charles Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the team had identified a replacement to fill their final roster spot.
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Of course, Gary Payton II is the son of former Buck and nine-time All-Star Gary Payton. The elder of the pair was infamously acquired by Milwaukee in the trade that saw Ray Allen leave for Seattle, and he would go on to leave the Bucks as a free agent after only a couple of months.
As for Payton II, his road to the NBA has been a lot less straightforward than the one taken by his father as a second overall pick. The 24-year-old went a full term in college starting out with Salt Lake Community College before ultimately ending up at Oregon State. Payton II was projected by many as a second round pick in last year’s draft, but ultimately went undrafted.
The Mitten, as our own Jordan Treske took to nicknaming him in the run-up to the draft, was signed by the Houston Rockets, but was waived prior to the start of the regular season.
As a result, Payton II has spent his year playing in the D-League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, and has impressed in the process.
Payton II has played 49 games for the Vipers throughout the year, posting averages of 14.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.0 steals, while shooting 49.8 percent from the field and 30.7 percent from three-point range.
Not too dissimilarly to what has allowed Malcolm Brogdon to settle in with the Bucks so quickly, at 24 years of age Payton II is more experienced than the average rookie. He also has the advantage of having spent time around the highest level of the game since he was a young child.
As we outlined in our profile of Payton II ahead of the draft, his defensive instincts make him an intriguing fit for the Bucks. According to comments made by Payton II to Charles Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel following his workout in Milwaukee, he gave the organization a firsthand look at that aspect of his game too. As Gardner explained about the workout which also included Demetrius Jackson and Isaiah Whitehead:
"The four guards showed their defensive abilities in the workout. Jackson is considered a mid-first round pick while the others are likely second-round picks.“Nobody could score for a while. We were getting stop after stop,” said the 6-3 Payton, the son of former NBA star Gary Payton and the Pac-12 defensive player of the year the last two years at Oregon State."
While Payton II will likely have a very limited role with Milwaukee considering their current hot streak and the importance of their upcoming games, as Malcolm Brogdon missed Friday’s game with a minor back injury, the Bucks were given a timely reminder of their lack of point guard depth.
With the postseason in sight, Payton II will be playoff eligible if needed, and at the very least he’ll give the Bucks chance to take a look at an intriguing guard who may be worth a longer term flyer.