NEW YORK — Gary Payton II is following in his father’s footsteps when it comes to elite defense.
Payton II was announced Friday as the G League’s defensive player of the year — a trophy that comes 26 years after his father, Basketball Hall of Famer Gary Payton, won the NBA’s defensive player of the year award.
Payton II played for Toronto-affiliated Raptors 905 in the G League bubble this winter, averaging a league-best 2.54 steals per game to go along with 10.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists. Raptors 905 had the best regular-season record and was the top seed in the G League playoffs, where they fell in the semifinals.
Payton II also was the league’s steals champion in 2018-19, when he averaged 2.96 per game.
The award was decided by a vote by NBA G League head coaches and general managers whose teams participated in the bubble.
Gary Payton played for Miami’s NBA championship team in 2006, plus was with Seattle, Boston, Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Lakers. He has the fourth-most steals in NBA history.