2. Payton Pritchard
It is a make-or-break year for Pritchard even after his extension. The 6’1 point guard was the Celtics’ first-round pick in 2020, but his minutes have decreased in each of his first three NBA seasons. Pritchard was so frustrated with his role last year that he requested a trade (subscription required), but things have drastically changed.
Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon are gone with just Jrue Holiday coming in to replace them. Pritchard is in line to be one of the first players off the bench and has cooked in the first three preseason games. The 25-year-old should set a career-high in minutes, but can he produce enough to maintain a larger role?
Pritchard makes just $4.0 million this season and the modest extension that begins next year helps the Celtics trade him. The franchise will be over the second tax apron and unable to aggregate contracts in a trade meaning the more Pritchard makes and retains value, the more Boston can get in return in a deal. His $6.7 million for next season will be a bit more tradeable for a helpful rotation piece if things do not work this season.
Payton Pritchard must prove he can be a steady backup point guard on a contending team or he will likely be wearing a different uniform at the start of the 2024-25 campaign.