Preseason basketball has given Boston Celtics fans an exciting glimpse into the C’s new-look squad — and undoubtedly, Payton Pritchard is stealing the show.
Pritchard has led the Celtics in scoring every game so far. Through three preseason contests, he has poured in 21.3 points per game on 52.3% shooting. The red-hot point guard has lit it up from three, sinking 13 shots from beyond the arc on a 41.9% clip.
Needless to say, Pritchard is on a heater. While his outside jumper is scorching, he has also dominated inside the arc. Listed at six-foot-one, the 25-year-old sparkplug has made 10/13 shots from two-point range.
Just hours before Boston’s first preseason game, Pritchard agreed to a four-year, $30 million extension. P-Rabbit now enters his fourth year in the league with renewed job security and a chip on his shoulder. The tenacious sharpshooter averaged a career-low 13.1 minutes last season, stuck at the bottom of a point guard logjam that included Marcus Smart, Derrick White, and Malcolm Brogdon.
In just 48 games played, Pritchard recorded career lows in almost every statistical category. He finished the 2022-23 campaign with fewer points, rebounds, and assists than his previous two seasons. He also set career lows in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, free throw percentage, field goals made, and 3-pointers made.
As he settles into a rejuvenated role, Pritchard should bring vital scoring and playmaking to the Celtics’ second unit. The point guard could even make a case for Sixth Man of the Year.
After his 26-point explosion in the preseason opener, Pritchard discussed his new contract with the Boston media.
“It feels really good … just to be secure, lock it in … be a part of a great organization, a great city,” Pritchard said. “Obviously, I think this is the best basketball organization and city in the NBA.”
Payton Pritchard is a workhorse and it showed in the Boston Celtics’ offseason
Pritchard made clear strides over the summer, and his teammates haven’t been shy about it. During training camp, Sam Hauser sent out a warning to the rest of the league about Pritchard. Hauser praised the point guard’s aggression in practice and told reporters Pritchard is “out for blood this year.”
In a recent sit-down interview for The Celtics Files, Pritchard described his offseason routine and the extreme measures he takes to ensure he stays fit and ready for the season.
“Actually, I pay some of my homeboys to come … the ones that play overseas and stuff,” Pritchard said. “I’ll pay them for the week to come out, and all they have to do is just guard me. I’ll put them up in a little spot wherever I’m at and pay them for the week … For those hours, we play little games to five. If they get a certain amount of stops, they win … They ain’t winning much.”
Pritchard addressed the value of playing live possessions against professional basketball players who are giving it their all. The former Oregon star said he played hundreds of possessions this summer, which gave his offseason regime a serious boost.
Pritchard’s drive and determination will go a long way toward his individual success, as well as his impact on Boston’s championship quest. He seems more confident in his ability to help the Boston Celtics than ever before, no matter how he has to do it.
“Obviously, I can be able to stretch the floor, be able to hit threes and stuff like that,” Pritchard said. “I really try to hang my hat on the energy plays … little things like that to change the game. Obviously, we’ve got unbelievable players, so scoring is not something we necessarily need. I’ve got to find ways to always affect the game.”
Celtics fans have dreamt of an 18th championship for over a decade, and a career year for Pritchard could turn that dream into a reality.