Payton Pritchard has impressed his Boston Celtics teammates in short order.
The Celtics rookie, who Boston drafted in the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft last month, was the topic of conversation Thursday during the team’s media availability.
The Oregon product first had his name mentioned when veteran guard Marcus Smart was asked if any of Boston’s new players had impressed him. He didn’t have to think twice.
“I’d probably say Payton Pritchard, for me,” Smart told reporters. “I kind of had a feeling that he would be a guy that, for me, that would be a standout, and I was looking forward to seeing what he has. He hasn’t disappointed yet.”
Jayson Tatum expressed how he appreciated that both first-rounder Aaron Nesmith and Pritchard had been working hard during the team’s training camp. The NBA All-Star did offer a pretty strong review of Pritchard, specifically, though.
“Payton, obviously, he can shoot the ball really well. He really knows how to play,” Tatum said. “He competes at a high level, and I like that.”
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens wasn’t surprised to hear Smart, and later Tatum, compliment the No. 26 overall pick. After all, the 22-year-old guard, who was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year, was known for his intensity while playing with the Ducks. It seems he’s carried that with him to Boston.
“Well, he?s tough. He knows how to play,” Stevens said of Pritchard. “He?s physical, can shoot the ball. And so I think he’s certainly had a good couple of days. What that means in the long run, big picture, there’s still a lot to sort out.
“I?m not surprised he?s stood out to Marcus. I think he’s got a lot of courage, I think he’s got a lot of grit. That’s why he was picked in the first round, and why he’s a good player.”
The Celtics will open their season against the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 23.