Every year, there always emerges a player or two to add to my garbage man team. To be included for consideration for this team, there are some specific qualities one must possess. The main thing you can’t be is a guy who creates his own shot. Fair or not, this will exclude you from the discussion. Skills and qualities a nominee might possess are high defense prowess, great cutting ability, a propensity for floor burns and other hustle plays, and the ability to end up where the action is happening. 

Current members of the garbage man team include Draymond Green, Marcus Smart, and Alex Caruso. They do all the little things that can remove the clutter from the streets and allow teams to seek their full potential. Generally, they become crowd favorites.

Garbage Man Pedigree

The season is still early, but Gary Payton II of the Golden State Warriors is on a fast track to being included on this team. Payton II certainly has the pedigree that would lend himself to finding his way on this team. He bounced around college and the pros, was twice named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, and won the G-League Defensive Player of the Year Award. He also has a famous father who was phenomenal on defense, though too good offensively to be a garbage man.

Gary Payton II: The Newest Garbage Man
Gary Payton II has built his garbage man pedigree by winning a G-League Defensive Player of the Year Award.

The Case

Over the last three games, the younger Payton II has averaged 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 2.7 steals per game, in just 18.1 minutes. He is also a team-leading +68 over that span. Add in that he’s averaging 13.7 points on 72% shooting with lobs, cuts, and transition dunks, it’s no wonder Payton II is making a run for the garbage man team. If I had access to deflection data, his onslaught would be even more impressive.

What has jumped out for Payton II over the last three games is how he seems to need nothing, but provides so much. There he was against LaMelo Ball, hounding him at half court like some knockoff version of Jrue Holiday from the Finals. Against the Pelicans, he provided timely rebounds that helped the Warriors balloon their lead in the second half. Against the Rockets on Sunday, it was steals and deflections where he made his imprint felt most. And, in true garbage man fashion, his points only seem to be dunks that provide a massive boost for both the team and the crowd.

Going Forward

Despite the Warriors’ hot start and Payton II’s recent play, there are reasons to hold back full adulation for both. The competition that has coincided with Payton II’s garbage man building resume has been two of the worst teams in the league and a struggling Hornets team. As the season progress, Payton II’s ability to tap into this level of disruption with semi-regularity will be important to cementing his place on the team. In line with this, it remains to be seen if Payton II will even stick in the lineup, especially once Klay Thompson returns.

Gary Payton II is combining some scoring touch with his great defensive ability to provide a spark for the Warriors.

With that said, the defensive ability is very real, as evidenced by Payton II’s past accolades and what your eyes see when you watch him. A core tenet to inclusion on the garbage man team is the ability to do all the little things, including those that don’t show up in the box score. Payton II has shown he has these, something that will help when the scoring regresses. He also plays on a cerebral team that can provide lanes for someone with his limited but unique skill set to thrive for 10-15 minutes a night. Even as the statistical production subsides, watching how he affects plus/minus over the course of the season should reveal his true value.

Anymore Garbage Man Nominees?

Garbage men of the NBA give true diversity to the game that has the All-Stars, rightfully, dominating the headlines. They rev up the crowd, provide grit, and make a larger impact than any box score gazing would suggest. As the season progresses, we will keep an eye on the status of Payton II’s resume as well as keep an eye open for any more nominees for the team. And, if readers have their own nominees, please send the player my way so I can check their bonafide.

For more basketball coverage from Belly Up Sports, check out The Midweek Midrange show on YouTube on Wednesdays and @HoopsBellyUp on Twitter. Read additional coverage at Belly Up Sports.
About Author

Ryan Rodriguez

If you want to hear my thoughts, check out my podcast, The Coastal Connection, which I do with some former coaching colleagues available on Spotify, Apple, and Google Podcasts. You can also check out my personal blog, The Thoughts of r2, if you want to read me on more topics than just NBA.

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