The Oregon native turned Bostonian is averaging an impressive 8.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game while shooting 50 percent from the field and connecting on 43.2 percent of his 3-point shot attempts in 22.7 minutes per game this season.
Furthermore, Pritchard is currently playing as one of the top rookies in the NBA this season despite being a lower-end and overlooked draft selection. To break it down even further, Pritchard has totaled 105 points, 33 rebounds, 34 assists, 13 steals, and five blocks in 272 minutes.
The Boston Celtics landed a game-changer when they selected Payton Pritchard 26th overall in the 2020 NBA Draft
On top of his impressive stats so far this season, Pritchard has also led a game with eight assists and scored a game-winning put-back shot to add to the strong start to his NBA career.
Pritchard has clearly carved a role for himself on this Celtics team. What’s unique about his game is that he seemingly fits well with any group of players that is deployed to the court. He meshes well with the starters and can create positive scoring opportunities for himself and the second unit.
It’s fair to say that Pritchard has been one of the most reliable, consistent, and well-rounded players that the Celtics have on their team right now. That being said, Pritchard’s accelerated and persistent production immediately affects the overall rotation of the team.
With the early success of Pritchard, the Celtics are allowed to be more flexible with their lineups, rotations, and switches throughout the course of a game. Having a seasoned guy like Pritchard on the bench also gives the Celtics the option of starting Marcus Smart without having to worry about taking away production and direction from the second unit.
We have to acknowledge that Pritchard’s minutes will continue to take a slight dip once Kemba Walker’s minutes restriction is complete. However, Pritchard has proved enough thus far to have earned meaningful minutes for when Walker is actually back in the lineup full time. He’s shown to be an exceptional plug-and-play guy with any group the Celtics have on the floor.
The great thing about the seasoned rookie is that he’s not so much of a defensive liability as people may have projected him to be at the start of the season. But the young rookie has proved to be gritty, tough, and provide an effortless intensity on defense.
During the back-to-back games earlier this season against the Indiana Pacers, Pritchard was noticeably following the ball around the court on defense while also guarding three different players in that same defensive possession, which included Myles Turner.
Building off of the notion that Payton Pritchard is a quality and sturdy defender, the argument can be made that Smart’s services may not be needed on the second unit anymore but rather in the starting lineup. If Pritchard can continue this level of play and facilitate the floor, the Celtics will have many different varieties and options to play with in regards to their lineup.
To have a player bring that kind of intensity and high energy determination on every series from the bench is going to prove to make a huge difference for the Boston Celtics this season.