The 26th pick Payton Pritchard has shown that he is NBA ready at the beginning of this season. And now is a better time than ever.
The former shooter out of Oregon has stepped up big from the jump of the season. Right out the gate the rookie received playing time during valuable moments. During the times on the court, he’s shown to be the right choice for Danny Ainge.
Brad Stevens Likes Payton Pritchard
“He’s poised, he makes the right play, he’s deceptive. He’s a guy that knows how to play,” said head coach Brad Stevens last month when talking about Pritchard. In the first 6 games played this season, he’s averaging 6.8 points, 54% from the field, and 41.7% from deep. Considering he’s fighting for playing time with a decent bench it’s impressive. Also, he has to share the basketball with Tatum, Brown, Smart, and more veterans.
Pritchard has been finding where he fits in on the team. When in the game, Pritchard hangs around the perimeter ready for a kick out. He sparked the late-game comeback against the Indian Pacers with his 10 points. At times he finds himself handling the ball but the expertise he is shooting. Since Tatum and Brown can create opportunities, the rookie waits for him at his spots.
Room for Improvement
Listed at 6’2 and 190lbs he’s a bit undersized. On defense opponents attack the rookie primarily inside the paint. Other guards like to put him in iso and pick n roll situations as times on rotation he gets lost. However, with gaining a few pounds and building chemistry, his defense will pan out. His athleticism isn’t something that will stand out amongst other players in the league. His handle could use a little work. He makes a valiant effort on the glass and not enough time with the ball to be a passer. But that’s ok because his shot is his specialty.
Brad Stevens found a spot for him in the rotation coming in for Tatum or Brown. With Smart and Teague playing the point, Pritchard spots up nicely. He’s averaging over 20 minutes a game so far and finds success when he’s aggressive.
The former Pac-12 Player of the Year averaged 20 points a game and 46% from the field his senior year at Oregon. Being the leader on that team, he was given the green light and made smart decisions. His career-high at *3% from the free-throw his junior year. As expected his numbers won’t be the same in the NBA. However, he can become a nice addition to spreading the floor for the Celtics.
Until Walker returns from his knee injury Pritchard will most likely stay in the rotation. Barring injury, he can become a swell edition alongside the other stars in Tatum and Brown. At his best, he can be the shooting off the bench that the Celtics needed last year. As for now, Payton Pritchard has shown to be a good pick.