The Boston Celtics supposedly have a hole to fill at point guard. Marcus Smart starting at the one is a no-brainer, but there is a serious lack of depth.
Luckily for the Cs, Payton Pritchard showed immense promise last season. With Kemba Walker gone, he is poised for a breakout sophomore season.
Pritchard wrapped up an unexpectedly great first season by finishing seventh on the team in scoring. He appeared in 66 games, playing 19.2 minutes per.
The most impressive stat to note, however, was his three-point shooting. He took 3.8 threes a night and shot 41.1% on the season.
This ranked second on the Celtics behind only Evan Fournier (who only played 16 games with the C’s). His percentage wasn’t just great in terms of this season, though.
As of right now, Pritchard ranks third all-time for three-point percentage in Boston Celtics franchise history. The only players above him are Marcus Thornton and Eddie House.
Though it may be a small sample size, Pritchard’s willingness to pull up from anywhere is a valuable trait. It spaces the floor for Boston’s stars and provides an extra scoring option off the bench.
With more shots opening up due to the absence of Walker (8.2 three-point attempts), Pritchard is set to take, and make, a lot more threes next year.
That isn’t the only place he will be valuable, though. Pritchard’s playmaking is wildly underrated and the C’s have yet to put it to good use.
He was a solid playmaker in college, averaging 5.5 assists his senior season with the Ducks. On top of that, he was a much better passer than most realize last season.
Pritchard ended the year fifth on the team in passes made per game. The only players ahead of him were Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown.
Just because he only averaged 1.8 assists doesn’t mean he wasn’t moving the ball well. Pritchard showed great promise as a primary ball handling option.
Amongst Celtics who played at least 10 minutes per game last season, he averaged the second-most average seconds per touch (4.27 seconds).
For a 6-1 point guard, he was even solid on the defensive side of the floor. His hustle and grittiness shined through on that end more than anything.
Walker’s departure opens up 31.8 minutes at the point guard position. Smart will certainly see an increase in minutes, but Pritchard should as well.
At only 23-years-old, the sky’s the limit for Pritchard. He should be able to thrive next season when he ultimately gets thrust into the spotlight.
He seized his opportunity to contribute last season, earning minutes over Jeff Teague, Carsen Edwards, and others. There’s nothing stopping him from doing the same thing next year.
Watch out for Pritchard. The now sophomore point guard is more than ready to help handle point guard duties for the Boston Celtics.