A position the Rockets should be looking for in the draft is backcourt depth, and there are still several quality players the Rockets could take with one of their two second-round picks. One of those picks could be Gary Payton II from Oregon State.
Currently, DraftExpress has Payton going #50 overall to the Indiana Pacers. The Rockets hold the 37th and 43rd picks currently.
Payton is the son of NBA Hall of Fame guard Gary Payton and he attended his father’s alma mater, Oregon State. However, he only spent his junior and senior seasons there. He transferred from Salt Lake Community College after his sophomore season. He has less experience against strong competition, but in his senior season, he proved that he belonged, leading Oregon State to its first NCAA Tournament since his dad led the team 26 years ago.
Payton was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and his defensive ability on the perimeter would be welcome to a Rockets team that struggled in that category last year. He can guard ones or twos in the NBA and the Beavers relied on him to guard the other team’s best player.
On the offensive side of the ball is where Payton’s game needs to improve. He does not shoot the three ball at the rate a Mike D’Antoni offense needs. His shooting must improve and he needs to gain more confidence in his shot if he wants to become a better player in the league. If he works on the three, he could be very much like a bigger Patrick Beverley.
Beverley is a very easy comparison for Payton. Both players are tenacious and defensive-minded. The only thing Beverley has over Payton is a better three-point shooting game (although that wasn’t always the case). The explosiveness is there for Payton, and he will fight for every offensive board in the game. His effort will never be questioned. He has had to fight for everything and he has not been spoon-fed, even if his father is one of the greatest guards in NBA history.
Another weakness in Payton’s game is his ability to create plays. However, the Rockets would be a good fit for him, because Payton’s responsibilities will not be in the playmaking department. Harden has those duties covered. He has good NBA size for a guard and he will give any team energy. With second-round picks, effort, energy and NBA readiness matters more than first-round picks, where talent and body trumps all.
The best case scenario for Payton is he lands with a team that has a need for a point guard and could get decent playing time in the near future. The worst case scenario is that Payton ends up with the wrong team who drafts him because of his name. Payton is a raw prospect and has potential to be a good 3-and-D player in the league. However, he needs a year or two to develop his shot and he could be a solid player in the league. Hopefully the Rockets can draft him and send him down to the Valley where he will be forced to work on his three-point game. Then in a few years, when Beverley approaches his early thirties, Payton can be wheeled into the rotation.