Gary Payton II is a difference-maker whose heart beats for his role on the Warriors.
And as he sees other role players come into their own with the NBA playoffs right around the corner, he wants Golden State's bench to keep it up.
The Warriors' trade-deadline acquisition told NBC Sports Bay Area's Chris Mullin he "absolutely" feels everything falling into place as the team builds late-season momentum.
"I think the role players are starting to understand it's getting down to the season, so it's definitely less is more," Payton said Friday on "Warriors Postgame Live" after Golden State's 130-115 victory over the San Antonio Spurs at Chase Center.
That "less is more" mindset helped Payton become a first-time NBA champion with the Warriors last year, serving as the team's heavily reliable defensive stopper off the bench throughout the 2022-23 season. On Friday night, he showed his grit and scored seven points on 3-of-5 shooting while grabbing eight boards in 18 minutes off the bench.
"That's why we traded for him," Steph Curry said postgame of Payton's immediate impact on the game. "It kind of speaks for itself. And understanding how he helped us win a championship last year when he's healthy and how he can influence the game in a lot of different ways."
Now Payton, and other Warriors role players like Jonathan Kuminga, Anthony Lamb and Donte DiVincenzo, whose role has increased in Andrew Wiggins' absence, hope to make it five NBA championships in nine seasons for the Warriors as they hold onto the Western Conference's No. 6 seed.
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And when you're surrounded by stars like Curry, all you have to do is focus on your job at hand.
"Just do the little things, the right things, and like I said, let the heavy-load guys do what they do," Payton said. "But we've just got to put them in the right position to be great."