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Meet Payton Pritchard, the Celtics rookie providing a ‘spark’ without Kemba Walker

“The GOAT” within the NBA is often a time period reserved for Michael Jordan and possibly LeBron James. That did not cease Jaylen Brown from dubbing Celtics rookie Payton Pritchard “the GOAT” after simply his fourth NBA sport.

No, it is unlikely that Brown thinks Pritchard is healthier than Jordan, James and even teammate Jayson Tatum. However the level guard from Oregon has offered a spark to the Boston second unit early within the season whereas Kemba Walker continues to overlook video games with a knee damage. Pritchard had a profession evening in a Dec. 29 win over the Pacers, scoring 10 factors with 5 rebounds and 5 assists. 

“Payton is the GOAT, man,” Brown said. “Payton got here in with the arrogance. Positively wanted a spark coming off the bench, and Payton was all the pieces and extra for us tonight. We will want extra guys to proceed to step up, however glorious job from Payton Pritchard, man. The child can play, and we’re wanting ahead to him and different guys stepping up as nicely sooner or later.”

Here is what you could know concerning the 22-year-old making waves in Boston.

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1. A highschool legend in Oregon

Pritchard performed 4 years of highschool basketball at West Linn Excessive College in Oregon. He received 4 state titles.

The primary state championship was his faculty’s first in 16 years, however Pritchard ensured the hole would not be as lengthy the subsequent three seasons. As a sophomore, Pritchard hit a buzzer-beater to beat Jahlil Okafor in a showcase sport. Then as a junior, he beat Brown in one other showcase sport. 

As a senior, Pritchard averaged 23.6 factors, 5.1 rebounds, 6.8 assists and three.1 steals per sport. And as traditional, he received his ultimate sport of the season in a West Linn uniform. 

(Getty Photos)

2. An all-time nice at Oregon as a hometown child

Pritchard grew up in Tualatin, Ore., about 90 minutes from the College of Oregon the place he starred for 4 seasons. After 4 video games on the bench as a freshman, Pritchard began from there on out for the Geese.

As a senior, Pritchard was named the Bob Cousy Level Guard of the Yr after averaging 20.5 factors and 5.5 assists per sport. He completed his profession as Oregon’s all-time assists chief (659). He is additionally the primary participant in Pac-12 historical past to report 1,900 factors, 500 rebounds and 600 assists in his profession.

3. An NBA Draft steal?

The Celtics took Pritchard with the twenty sixth total decide within the 2020 NBA Draft. He was Boston’s second decide of the primary spherical after the Celtics grabbed Aaron Nesmith at No. 14 out of Vanderbilt. Relying on how a pair combo guards are labeled, Pritchard was both the seventh or eighth level guard off the board.

Working in opposition to Pritchard was the NBA’s ageism, which appears to knock down the inventory of four-year faculty gamers regardless of Pritchard’s faculty dominance. NBADraft.net wrote, “His velocity, athleticism, and bodily profile (6-2, 195 kilos) might make for a troublesome transition to the subsequent degree.”

Pritchard’s means to defend NBA-level level guards might decide his long-term NBA outlook, however Boston on the very least obtained a extremely gifted offensive participant at No. 26 total.

4. An early antidote with Kemba Walker injured

Walker is lacking the early a part of the 2020-21 NBA season with a knee damage, and “will not be again any time quickly,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told MassLive recently. That leaves the Celtics with three fundamental level guard choices: Marcus Sensible shifting over to the purpose, Jeff Teague or Pritchard.

Early on, each Teague and Pritchard have come off the bench with Sensible within the beginning lineup. After enjoying 13 minutes in his first NBA sport, Pritchard surpassed 23 minutes in every of his subsequent three, together with with that 10-5-5 line in opposition to the Pacers on Dec. 29.

When Walker returns, it might develop into a Teague or Pritchard scenario, however the rookie has already offered a spark in his first handful of video games that Boston might’ve solely hoped for however not anticipated.

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