Celtics Holding Back Rookie Payton Pritchardby John Devereaux March 19, 2021 0 comments
The Boston Celtics need a bench. Game after game, the Celtics struggle to maintain their momentum that the starters created. A championship-caliber team should not be in the bottom half of assists, rebounds, and points. The team’s bench is holding back the talents of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
One of the reasons that the Celtics made the Eastern Conference finals last season was due to their scoring output. Although it did not come from the bench, the team had four scorers that averaged 20 points. Both Brown and Tatum are still averaging their great numbers, but with Kemba Walker struggling after his knee injury and the departure of Gordon Hayward, Boston can not seem to find that third scorer.
More Payton Pritchard
Walker is averaging 17.9 points on 39% from the field and 35% from three. With Walker struggling from his usual shooting splits, the team has been trying to rely on their younger guards of the bench. Payton Pritchard started off very hot in the first two months of the NBA season. Since then he has been up and down and showing his rookie inconsistencies. Pritchard might be the team’s best option off the bench in scoring, but in 20 minutes a game the rookie is only averaging seven points a contest.
Pritchard averages only six shots a game, and plays mostly off the ball as a point guard. Tatum and Brown usually handle the ball at the half-court, leaving Pritchard to be a catch-and-shoot player. This leaves him in a very bad position. Pritchard has the potential to become the sixth man that the Celtics need. He is an excellent shooter, shooting 45-40-90 from the field.
The Celtics are 19th in scoring in the NBA and 25th in assists. Pritchard was an elite offensive player at Oregon. Handling most of the offensive plays, as he is crafty with the ball. Brad Stevens has been keeping the ball out of Pritchard’s hands way too often. Brown and Tatum should not have the ball at the top of half court. Those plays are readable as most of the time they lead to isolation jump shots.
Change in the Gameplan
With Pritchard handling the ball, the team could run more pick and rolls. Robert Williams succeeds with high screens and lobs and is a very efficient player at the rim. Comparable to a prime DeAndre Jordan, Williams is a rim bruiser. Pritchard’s offensive talents surpass just shooting the ball. His passing ability is undervalued. Although he will not accumulate Rajon Rondo assist numbers, he is capable of finding open teammates and setting up plays.
This rookie could be the answer to the Celtics bench woes. Pritchard is an elite shooter, and a capable ball handler. Stevens needs to hand the keys to the second unit to the rookie. With the keys it is possible that Pritchard could up his scoring output to close to 15 points a game. This would also allow Tatum and Brown to be able to rest on the offensive side of the ball from time to time. If Stevens allows the rookie to take more control, then the team could find their new point guard for the future. And make a stronger case to trade Walker before his contract becomes difficult.
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