Is it too early to proclaim Payton Pritchard as one of the steals of the 2020 NBA Draft?
SI.com’s Jeremy Woo and Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman both praised the Boston Celtics point guard Tuesday as one of the best rookies in the 2020-21 NBA season to date. Pritchard’s poise and toughness have impressed NBA observers, and his pro resume already includes a game-winning layup, Rookie of the Year-caliber stats and a great nickname. One can’t ask for much more from a 26th overall pick in the NBA draft after one month of his career.
Woo praised Pritchard as an “instant-impact pick,” who likely will deliver “great value” over the length of his modest rookie contract.
“I think what’s clear now in Pritchard’s case is that Boston had the foresight to address its guard depth issues ahead of time, a situation that wasn’t necessarily apparent heading into the draft,” Woo wrote. “it just goes to show that there’s nothing wrong with drafting for immediate need in the first round, as long as the player’s immediate value matches up with his rookie salary structure. For experienced college players, it’s an important distinction. Given his toughness, maturity and track record of performing under pressure, Pritchard’s early success isn’t surprising at all.
“People will be curious to see how far he can progress by the time his next deal rolls around, which is why many graded him as a second-rounder (he was No. 40 for us), but Boston hit that pick on the head and appears to have a solid, affordable backup under team control for the next four seasons. Even if Pritchard is never more than that, it’s great value for where the Celtics got him.”
Wasserman believes Pritchard won’t necessarily fade into obscurity, now Kemba Walker has returned to action.
” … Pritchard’s three-point shooting (43.2 percent) has been a plus for the lineup,” Wasserman wrote. “And despite lacking size and athleticism, he’s made 55.8 percent of his twos, effectively using his craftiness, body control and touch around the paint (62.5 percent inside 10 feet).
” … He could be looking at fewer opportunities with Walker back, but he’s already made a strong case for backup reps at both guard spots by hitting open shots, moving the ball and playing hard.”
Pritchard’s NBA story is just in its opening chapter. If he continues to develop and becomes an even higher-caliber of player, the rest of that NBA tale will include more rave reviews, highlights and interest stemming from far and wide.