The Houston Rockets played their preseason opener against the Shanghai Sharks tonight, winning by a final score of 131-94, and former Beaver Gary Payton II made his NBA preseason debut with the team. Payton II signed with Houston as an undrafted free agent in the spring and secured himself a guaranteed first year on his contract.
GP2 got 5:51 of playing time today, all coming in the 4th quarter, and made the most of it. He got the crowd excited almost immediately after checking in when he stole the ball and cruised down the court for a thunderous two-handed jam.
Payton II looked very impressive on the defensive end and was aggressive on the offensive end as well. He showed the hustle that Corvallis fell in love with when he missed his second of 2 free throws and chased down the rebound. He ended up turning over the ball, but you have to love the hustle. GP2 ended up with 3 points, 1 rebound and 2 steals, a solid performance in the little amount of playing time that he was given.
Payton II is one of the 15 guaranteed contracts for this season, and appears to have a good chance at making the roster. However he will still have to battle with Isaiah Taylor for that last spot, and there is still the contract situation with Donatas Motiejunas the Rockets need to figure out. If Payton II can continue to impress on the defensive end and be more aggressive on offense he will give himself an even better chance to make that final roster. Time will tell, but regardless it was an impressive performance to start off the GP2’s preseason.