The Boston Celtics have been running through just about every team that’s been in their path so far this season. Boston is off to a blistering start and holds the NBA’s best record at 20-5. The 17-time champs have gotten strong contributions from just about every player that has suited up for them so far this season. There’s no question that the C’s are the deepest team in the league.
The three-headed monster of Marcus Smart, Derrick White, and Malcolm Brogdon fills out what is certainly the strongest guard rotation in the Association. Smart is having what could very well be the best season of his career, averaging 12 points and 7.6 assists (sixth highest in the NBA) per game. Brogdon is not only the third leading scorer for the Boston Celtics with just under 14 points per game, but he’s also the most efficient 3-point shooter in the NBA, making over 49% of his attempts, according to Statmuse. White is another player that has an impressive start to the year. He’s averaging just under 11 points per game and is having a career year from behind the arc. White is making threes at a 43.4% clip, which is higher than Steph Curry who’s been shooting 43.1%. All three guards have given the Celtics just about everything they could’ve asked for and more so far.
Boston’s strong three-guard rotation has left the team’s fourth guard spending most of his time glued to the bench. Payton Pritchard, who is now in his third season with the C’s, hasn’t been able to find any sort of consistent minutes through the first 25 games. Most of his opportunities have come while one of the other three guards misses a game. The sporadic minutes have seemed to throw off the Oregon alumni’s rhythm. Pritchard averages just five points per game albeit in limited minutes, and is shooting a career-low from downtown at about 36%.
Last season, he took the floor 71 times for the Celtics, even starting in two games. Over the course of the season he proved to be efficient, leading the team in three point shooting, making 41% of his attempts from deep. Fast PP even had a few convincing performances during Boston’s NBA Finals run. He scored 18 points off the bench against the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Now, I wrote about this issue about a month ago and made the argument that it is important for Boston to keep him around in case any of the other three guards has to miss an extended period of time. However, the Celtics were without Brogdon on Monday, didn’t give Fast PP any minutes, and still came out on top against the Toronto Raptors.
Was this an experiment? Was head coach Joe Mazzulla testing the waters to see what life would be like with just two of his three best guards in the rotation? Does this mean anything for Payton Pritchard?
Probably not, but let’s have a gander and see what’s out there for the Boston Celtics if they decide they want to move Fast PP.
Boston Celtics make deal with an old friend
When looking at potential landing spots for Payton Pritchard, it’s important to gauge the opposition’s need for bench production. The Utah Jazz are an interesting group in this sense. They got off to a red hot start and were the talk of the league. Since losing starting point guard Mike Conley to injury, the Jazz have been more like the Blues (how do you like that music pun, huh?)
They’ve dropped to ninth place in the Western Conference with a record of 14-12. Despite the low position, Utah sits just one game back of fourth place because of how tight the race is out West.
The Jazz bench is in the bottom third of the league in terms of efficiency, shooting just 44% from the field. However, Utah relies on its bench for the fourth most points in the NBA at 44 per game. They seem like a team that would benefit from some increased efficiency from the reserves. Adding Payton Pritchard, who has traditionally been a very efficient player, would make a lot of sense for them. Not to mention that Danny Ainge, who drafted Pritchard, is at the helm running things for the Jazz.
Now, you may be asking what’s in it for the Celtics? To which I’d reply Rudy Gay. Listen, Rudy Gay isn’t one of the most attractive names out there, but he could be someone Boston benefits from bringing in. Yes, I’m saying this while he shoots 36% from the field and 25% from beyond the arc. That’s because it would make some sense for the C’s to use Gay in a similar way that they’ve been using Blake Griffin. Inserting Gay into the starting lineup while either Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum rests would at the very least be on brand. It may not be the perfect fit, but he doesn’t make much money. Plus, Boston’s wing depth is really the only area you could argue that they really could look to improve. The guard rotation is the league’s best, and the big-man rotation has been rock solid without Robert Williams III even being back from knee surgery.
The hypothetical deal would send Pritchard and the injured Danillo Gallinari to Utah in exchange for Gay. Is it something the C’s should do? Probably not, but there is room for improvement if they decided to pull the hypothetical trigger.