LeBron James gives surprising shout-out to ailing Boston Celtics stay-ready group leader

LeBron James shouted out Payton Pritchard as being a capable iso-baller on the Boston Celtics bench
LeBron James shouted out Payton Pritchard as being a capable iso-baller on the Boston Celtics bench / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

LeBron James was lauding the Boston Celtics offense and found a way to give a surprising shoutout to struggling stay-ready group leader Payton Pritchard during his "Mind The Game" podcast with his potential future Los Angeles Lakers head coach JJ Redick.

"To be honest, over the course of a 48-minute game they really only have two iso guys and that’s Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown," LeBron prefaced before saying, "Obviously, Payton Pritchard has the ability to play a little iso ball as well but they just have two iso guys. The rest of those guys they move off the pass. They move off the defense shifting."

Pritchard has either produced minimally or shot poorly in the Finals thus far, having last been a real factor during the Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. That doesn't mean he hasn't been a valuable contributor to an Eastern Conference Championship team that played historic basketball.

Boston Celtics' stay-ready group must prove themselves to avoid being expendable

When Boston presumably closes the door on the Dallas Mavericks in the Finals, it'll almost certainly be because of some mixture of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Jrue Holiday, and Derrick White. Al Horford will likely have his share of timely plays too.

But the Celtics' second unit doesn't have much of their footprints on this series thus far. To avoid becoming replaceable over the long haul, that needs to change during the C's closeout game; whenever that may come.

All bets are off if the unthinkable happens by the way. One would think the core wouldn't be safe from a trade at that point.

But even with Banner 18, Pritchard needs to justify his $8 million salary in this luxury tax climate. Sam Hauser is due for a raise in 2025 too. The NBA's CBA is designed to break up these kinds of special teams.

But they'll only be special if they take case of business and deliver Boston the tie-breaking championship in the NBA's all-time title race.