Joe Mazzulla sends strong message on the leader of Boston Celtics' stay-ready group

Boston Celtics v New York Knicks
Boston Celtics v New York Knicks / Elsa/GettyImages

The Boston Celtics are unique in that they essentially have six starters playing 27 minutes or more per night; that being Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Derrick White, Kristaps Porzingis, Jrue Holiday, and Al Horford. When everyone's in the lineup, Horford is the sixth man, but he's been called upon to represent the first five 33 times (and counting) during the 2023-24 campaign.

Boston is the best team in the league record-wise, and one of the best teams of all time net rating-wise, because that group has had four Eastern Conference Player of the Week award winners -- but also because of the team's "stay-ready" group.

Joe Mazzulla believes everyone on the team is a leader in his own right, but he gave particular props to Payton Pritchard for being that group's table-setter ahead of a 124-107 win for the Cs over the Portland Trail Blazers in which "Fast PP" went for 20 points, eight assists, and three rebounds in 26 minutes.

“Everybody on our team has a leadership role. Payton’s done a great job just turning into a well-rounded player in the games, but also just the attitude he brings to the stay-ready group,” Mazzulla said of Pritchard (h/t MassLive). “Anytime he steps on the floor, he’s competing at the highest of levels. I’ve really enjoyed watching him grow as a leader and a player.”

Payton Pritchard must prove he's enough for Boston Celtics' bench in postseason

The Celtics came into the season as an obviously top-heavy outfit, but the bench has been one of Boston's surprising strong suits en route to a storybook regular season. The keywords there? Regular season.

The postseason is an entirely different beast, where players and coaches can be exposed for not being players built to win when games count. Pritchard was a key member of the 2022 Finals run during Ime Udoka's one year with the Cs, but he faded into the background last season as an injured Malcolm Brogdon assumed almost all of the reserve minutes at the 1.

If he can prove to be enough for Boston, and prove that his $8 million salary is one of the league's best bargain deals, the Celtics will have proven to have been built the right way President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens.

If not? Perhaps one of the starters could be moved to build a more complete team. Truthfully, thinking of this team as not complete enough is preposterous right now, but you just never know when it comes to the playoffs.