Payton Pritchard Is Showing His Worth
Payton Pritchard put the entire NBA world on notice on January 6, 2021, albeit for just a moment. The rookie from Oregon stunned the defending Eastern Conference champion, Miami Heat, with a game-winning tip-in with 0.2 seconds left. The final score went on to be 107-105 with the Boston Celtics of course being victorious. While Pritchard is already beloved within the Celtics’ fanbase, or P-Rabbit as so many Celtics fans have nicknamed him, it may be time for the rest of the league to notice that Danny Ainge may have gotten yet, another steal in the draft. The season is early, but here is how 8-Mile (credit to Boston All-Star, Jayson Tatum for the nickname), has benefited the Celtics this season.
Payton Pritchard’s Value to Boston
Payton Pritchard: Don’t Let Numbers Fool You
One look at Pritchard’s stats in this young NBA regular season will not tell you the full story. Sure, numbers never lie, but I have always said they also do not tell the full story. Let’s put this into context. Pritchard is already getting nearly 23 minutes per game on an already loaded Celtics’ roster. If anything, he is another positive to their depth. The basic stats do not jump off the page. However, he is still shooting nearly 88.0 percent from the free-throw line to pair with an effective field goal percentage in the mid to high 50.0 percent range.
Pritchard is also ranked 14th in steal percentage as of January 7. Not to mention, he is playing shooting guard, which is the same position that budding star, Jaylen Brown, plays for Boston. Also, Marcus Smart sometimes sees some time at the two-guard spot as well. For a rookie being drafted late in the first round by a championship contender, that can be overwhelming. However, he is proving to be all about the team so far, which is huge for the chemistry of this Celtics team. Despite all of this, he is making the most of his opportunity so far and showing why he was such a treasured commodity in Oregon.
Pritchard’s College Career
Pritchard actually played all four years of college. During his senior year, he tallied 20.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 5.5 assists. He also had a deadly three-point shooting percentage of 41.5 percent. In what was perhaps the strangest year for NCAA basketball ever, the Ducks went 13-5 in conference play and went 24-7 overall. Oregon also was undefeated when playing at home. Of course, we cannot talk about their March Madness run. As we know March Madness was canceled in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. While it certainly was not a year where the Ducks were considered a real threat to the championship, they were still a quality opponent in large part due to Pritchard having the best season of his collegiate career.
Pritchard’s value is carrying over from Oregon to the Boston Celtics. After what many consider a disappointing offseason for Boston, due to some questionable draft choices and their inability to land a quality center, they seem to have a hit in Payton Pritchard. He seems to understand his role and has proven to be a team-first guy so far. This is something we see a lot of first-round picks struggle within their first year. As long as Pritchard stays on this path, he will have a long career.
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