The emergence of rookie guard Payton Pritchard has given Celtics fans something to be excited about early in the season. Through just 8 games, Pritchard has made the most of his opportunities to shine, with the Celtics being short-handed at guard due to injuries.
The Oregon native averaged 20.5 points, 5.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and shot 46.8% from the field in his senior year with the Oregon Ducks. Pritchard went on to win the PAC-12 Player of the Year Award, and was first-team All-American. Now at 22 years of age, Pritchard has shown his maturity and confidence on the court, moving and scoring the ball exceptionally well.
In Monday’s victory over the Toronto Raptors, Pritchard stepped up big in the absence of Jeff Teague (ankle) and Marcus Smart (thumb), as he had a career high 23 points and 8 assists off the bench, helping aid the Celtics to a 126-114 victory. Pritchard’s 23 points was the most scored in a game by a rookie so far this season. After the game Celtics’ head coach Brad Stevens spoke about Pritchard, “We’re going to ask him to do a lot right now… he’s going to have to be consistent for us to ave a chance to be a good team.”
Pritchard leads all rookies in minutes played this season, averaging 23.1 per game. On an interesting note, Celtics guard Jaylen Brown only averaged 17.2 minutes per game in his rookie season. Yes, the season is barely underway, and most of his minutes are due to other injuries, but it is quite noteworthy, as Brad Stevens tends not to rely on rookies.
When the Celtics are fully healthy, Pritchard should morph into the bench role that many expected him to play. Pritchard, along with Jeff Teague, will fill an important hole that the Celtics have been lacking in recent years. In 2019-20, the Celtics bench averaged just 26.5 points per game, ranking second-to-last in the entire league.