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Celtics select Payton Pritchard with the 26th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft

Celtics add another hopeful bench scorer with the 26th pick

NCAA Basketball: Colorado at Oregon Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Payton Pritchard, who lead the Oregon Ducks offense as a senior, fills an immediate position of need for the Celtics. With Brad Wanamaker’s free agency up in the air and concern surround the health of Kemba Walker’s knee, Pritchard slots in as a back up point guard project who will have the opportunity to contribute in their rookie season even if Marcus Smart returns to his sixth man role.

Ainge goes for another bench scorer with this pick. Pritchard is a veteran from Oregon that was their entire offense. Many boards and draftniks listed the former Duck as a second round talent, but Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge wanted to make a move on him at 26.

Pritchard is hyper-competitive and fits a mold that Ainge often seeks out in role players. In picking him late in the first round, Ainge is betting that Pritchard’s experience as a four-year college player will prepare him for immediate impact.

Coach Spins of CelticsBlog said this of the Pritchard pick:

Pritchard is a competitive shot-maker and deep range shooter. He was very good on catch-and-shoot attempts and good in limited usage off screens, so his ability to play with Boston’s core is ideal. Pritchard can create his own shot from deep with step-backs, and although he doesn’t jump off the page as an elite athlete, he’s turned himself into a competent one through sheer force and repetition.

Pritchard comes from a college program with a modern offense and that’s prepared him well for NBA systems. He’s best in the pick-and-roll and will hopefully facilitate for the second unit as a creator. There are veteran, ready-now traits to his pick-and-roll play.

There are clear concerns about what Pritchard can do on defense and how much upside is left to scrape from the barrel. He doesn’t look natural guarding the ball one-on-one and has an uncomfortable defensive stance. He’s a very conservative defender due to his lack of length and strength, as his steals and turnovers forced rates are incredibly low. Payton will be 23 in January, so work on his athleticism and defense will need to yield immediate improvements.

During media availability after the first round of the draft, Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had this to say about the new backup point guard:

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Boston will select at 30, and then send the pick to the Memphis Grizzlies.

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