Draymond Green adamantly defends passing up layup for Gary Payton II trey

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Draymond adamantly defends passing up open layup for GP2 dagger originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Warriors teammates were singing the praises of Gary Payton II following the 102-98 series-clinching win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 5, but perhaps none were louder than Draymond Green.

It might be because Payton bailed out Draymond late in the fourth quarter.

With 1:13 to play and the Warriors ahead by two points, the Nuggets sent two defenders to Klay Thompson in the corner. Draymond slipped towards the basket, and Klay fed him the basketball. But instead of going up for what appeared to be a wide-open layup, Draymond passed the ball outside to Payton, who swung it around to Andrew Wiggins, got it back and nailed a clutch 3-pointer that put Golden State up five.

Draymond’s decision to pass up the layup drew comparisons to Ben Simmons’ viral mishap when he opted to dish the ball to a teammate instead of rising for a wide-open dunk in Game 7 of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals.

Late Wednesday night, Draymond defended his choice to pass it outside to Payton on his podcast.

“It looked like déjà vu,” he said of the play on the latest episode of The Draymond Green Show. “Ben Simmons last year passed up a layup, and everybody got mad at him. However, there was a guy rotating across to block the shot. And so, very similar possession today. Klay dropped the ball down to me and I kicked it out to Gary Payton. … But [Nuggets forward] Jeff Green 100 percent was about to send that shot to the third row. I caught it, I turned. By the time I turned, he’s already loading up to block the shot. And I kicked it out to GP.”

It wasn’t just the fear of getting swatted that swayed Draymond’s decision. Over the course of the 2021-22 season, Payton gained his confidence.

“More importantly, I trust that GP can make that shot,” Draymond said. “It was such a terrible pass, so he had no chance at even shooting it anyway. The ball was on a nose-dive right to the ground. It was actually an incredible catch by him. Then he swung it to Wiggs, Wiggs drove. And Wiggs actually threw him another terrible pass that went nose-diving into the ground. He got it, he kept his poise and he knocked it down."

RELATED: Warriors rediscover championship heart, pass test vs. Nuggets

There are a few similarities in the outside shooting resumes of both players. Draymond has repeatedly said the playoffs are his time to knock down 3-pointers, and he backed up his word by nailing 36.4 percent of his attempts (4 of 11) against Denver after shooting 29.6 percent in the regular season. Payton, a career 32-percent shooter from deep, knocked down 6 of 8 3-point attempts in the first-round series.

"Good friend of mine in the media, Marcus Thompson, texted me and said, ‘GP might be like you. He makes all the big ones. All the big shots,'" Draymond said.

“And I’ve got to give him his credit. He hit the 3 that put us up 86-84 when we took the lead, and then he knocked it down, put the dagger in and sent [the Nuggets] to Cancun.”

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