Gary Payton II knew the questions were coming.
They’ve followed him his whole life.
So this was no different for the son of the former Seattle SuperSonics guard and Basketball Hall of Famer.
“There’s not one place I go and he’s not mentioned or asked about,” Payton said. “But I’m used to it.”
It wasn’t always easy being the son of a nine-time NBA all-star.
“Growing up young, it was difficult,” he said. “I didn’t know how to handle the pressure — the critics and everybody saying, ‘You’re never going to be as good as your father.’ Just getting older and wiser and being my own person and being comfortable with how I played basketball. As I got older, it got easier.”
His dad’s shadow, an inch taller, never scared him. The 6-foot-3 guard followed in his father’s footsteps and went to Oregon State.
But while he and his dad share the same name and the same alma mater, the younger Payton’s road to the NBA won’t be quite as easy as his father’s.
Gary Payton was the second pick in 1990, right behind former Syracuse standout Derrick Coleman. His son will likely have to wait until the second round to hear his name called.
While every team in the NBA was impressed with his father, Payton is hoping to impress just one team.
It’s why he was in New Orleans on Monday, along with 11 other players, at the team’s predraft workouts.
None of the players at Monday’s workouts will be taken with the Pelicans’ first-round pick, but all are hoping to be chosen by the Pelicans (or anybody else, for that matter) at some point.
Getting picked by the Pelicans is probably unlikely for Payton, especially if the team grabs a point guard (like Providence’s Kris Dunn) with the sixth overall pick.
This was Payton’s eighth workout. He has four more teams to audition for before the NBA draft June 23.
He updates his dad after every stop, mainly just letting him know if his shots were falling.
“I don’t think he worries about the rest of my game,” Payton said.
If there is one chink in his armor, it’s his shot.
But even that didn’t stop him from averaging 16 points, 7.9 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.5 steals as a senior.
Like his father, whose defensive prowess helped earn him the nickname “The Glove,” Payton can be a defensive gem. He was Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year both seasons at Oregon State after transferring from junior college and a first-team all-conference pick both seasons.
His athleticism is one of his best traits.
Averaging 7.9 rebounds, he was the only player in the country listed at 6-foot-3 or shorter to finish in the top 200 in that category.
How does he do it?
“Just heart,” he said. “I have a drive for the ball. It’s another opportunity for my team to score a bucket or get a defensive rebound. It just comes natural.”
And it should.
It’s in his genes.
He and his father are the only players in Oregon State history to record a triple-double. And the younger Payton led his school to the NCAA tournament for the first time since his father led the Beavers.
Perhaps his proudest moment at Oregon State was beating his dad in a game of H-O-R-S-E at the school. Well, actually, they called it P-A-Y-T-O-N.
Payton earned bragging rights over his dad that day.
“I don’t think he’s going to try me anymore,” he said. “I think he will lay that to rest. One-on-one, I don’t think he can hang with me.”