Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Major doubt surrounds Payton Pritchard’s role at Celtics: sources

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The Boston Celtics have already made some major additions this summer. After reaching the NBA Finals last year, Brad Stevens acted quickly this offseason, improving the bench and adding more depth to an already competitive roster.

He signed Italy forward Danilo Gallinari after being traded by the Atlanta Hawks and waived by the San Antonio Spurs. Stevens then continued that move by trading five players to the Indiana Pacers for combo guard Malcolm Brogdon.

The only downside to trading for Brogdon, however, is that the move has pushed young guard Payton Pritchard further down the depth chart. In fact, an anonymous Western Conference coach said there could be concerns over whether or not Pritchard will get minutes next season.

“Some of that depth might have trouble getting onto the pitch though,” wrote Heavy.com’s Steve Bulpett, who spoke with the coach. “A Western Conference coach asked Heavy how much room there would be for Payton Pritchard. He didn’t play much at the start of last season with Dennis Schroder using most of the backup minutes as a guard, but Pritchard was promoted after Schroder was traded.”

Pritchard could end up struggling to earn playing time, just like he did at the start of last season. However, the manager said he likes Pritchard’s game.

While the coach expressed some doubts about Pritchard’s place in Boston’s rotation, he also said he loves the Celtics guard game. He compared Pritchard to Pacers guard TJ McConnell, only with a key piece McConnell is missing from his game.

“I’ve been watching him for a long time,” said the coach. “Payton Pritchard is TJ McConnell with a jump shot and that’s the guy you want on your team.

When he started getting regular minutes last season, Pritchard played well. In the 71 games he appeared in, Pritchard averaged 6.2 points, 1.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists on 42.9% shots from the field and 41.2% shots from beyond the three-point line.

He expanded on that idea while also repeating his thoughts on Pritchard’s place in Boston’s current rotation.

The anonymous coach spoke about how Pritchard has defied the odds and proved doubt wrong. Despite his size, Pritchard has been able to make it to the NBA, but with the depth Boston has going into next year, the coach still thinks Pritchard could struggle.

“He was the guy that people used to say wasn’t big enough, not fast enough, not athletic enough. But no one found out that he has huge balls and is skillful,” explained the coach. “I love the child. I’m just interested to see how he fits in there if Brogdon and [Derrick] White takes the most [backcourt] Bank time.”

Marcus Smart is expected to be the starter again for Boston, with both Brogdon and White coming off the bench. After that, Pritchard will fight for scrap behind them. It will be an uphill battle for him to earn regular rotation minutes.

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