Payton Pritchard has turned out to be exactly what the Boston Celtics needed most on their team, as he continues his impressive rookie season. Most recently, Pritchard is showing us that his long-range shooting abilities will eventually open up the floor and create driving lanes for his teammates. To which Pritchard knows he just needs to make the right play when he recognizes that happening.
With barely any practice time this season, Payton Pritchard continues to have an impressive rookie season for the Boston Celtics.
It’s not so typical for a rookie to draw a double team when pulling up on a 3-point shot. However, when Pritchard starts confidently connecting on shots from behind the arc that range 25-31 feet from the basket in a single game, the double team is most definitely bound to happen. Showcasing his skills, Pritchard hit six 3-pointers on Friday night that were all released from at least 25 feet out.
“For me, it’s just guys have to come out farther to contest, which opens up driving lanes if they come that far. It’s just harder to contest that far out. So that’s why I usually go to that spot.” – Payton Pritchard, via Marc D’Amico of NBA.com
Pritchard finished Friday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets as Boston’s second-leading scorer with 22 points off the bench. He also added three rebounds and two assists en route to keeping the Celtics alive throughout most of the game. If you’re a fan of Pritchard, then you know that he always had an extended shooting range in his arsenal from his days at Oregon.
“I think I had that [shooting range] before I came to the Celtics. So I think I had that ability to shoot from deep.” – Payton Pritchard, via Marc D’Amico of NBA.com
It’s worth mentioning that Pritchard already made six 3-pointers in a game earlier this season, so he matched his career high on Friday night. However, it was the rookie’s fifth consecutive game scoring in double figures (22, 10, 14, 11, 15). Pritchard has elevated his production at a time when the Celtics needed it the most, while constantly moving players on and off the injury report and not having their full team available.
Pritchard’s been one of the best shooters on the Boston Celtics and is their leading scorer off the bench this season. In 30 games prior to the All-Star break, the rookie was hitting 40.2 percent of his shots from behind the arc. Now 24 games after the All-Star break, Pritchard is impressively connecting on 45.1 percent of his 3-point shots.
Furthermore, Pritchard’s hitting 42.4 percent of his 3-point shot attempts, which ranks him in the top 20 in the NBA this season. Of the 16 rookies who’ve logged in at least 1,000 minutes, Pritchard is in the top-three in 3-point percentage (42.4) and in the top seven in field goal percentage (45.4) among his rookie class.
Despite Pritchard being a rookie, you can see how poised he is to be great on the basketball court. And that’s a credit to himself, as he worked extremely hard to be so for four years while at Oregon. As a 23-year-old rookie, Pritchard is the same age as Jayson Tatum, Tremont Waters, and Robert Williams. So even though he is a rookie, it’s fair to say that Pritchard’s game is developed and quite established, especially offensively.
As the regular season nears its end and the playoffs approach, Pritchard is going to be an important part of Boston’s success down the stretch of a series.