Who is Payton Pritchard?

Payton Pritchard is a third year NBA player who was drafted by the Boston Celtics. He’s 6’1, 195 lbs, and full of energy. The 2020 Draft Prospect page on NBA.com for Pritchard has him at 6’2, 206 lbs. They list his strengths; 

  • Confident ball handler, passer and shot maker.

  • Creates space with hesitation dribbles and burst.

  • Has deep shooting range and a quick release.

  • Plays with poise and tenacity.


All of which have been ringing through, especially as of late. From when this article was being written (3/25/22), Pritchard has shot 58% from the three-point line in his last 5 games. He also had 2 games of perfect shooting.

This season, he is shooting an elite 40% from beyond the arc. From the free-throw line, he is a perfect 100%. Clearly, the man can shoot lights out. If his offensive pace keeps up, he will carve out a nice role not only on the Boston Celtics, but the NBA as a whole, as an elite shooter who can give you plenty of buckets at any time.

Payton Pritchard’s Past

A young high school age Payton Pritchard dribbling a basketball in his possession

Payton Pritchard went to West Linn High School, in West Linn, Oregon. Their school motto is "The Power of the Lion is in the Pride". Pritchard had a lot to be proud about while attending the school. The West Linn Lions won 4 consecutive state titles behind averages of over 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists throughout his high school career. Pritchard ended up winning many awards, such as the Todd Pratt Player of the Year (2014/2015), Oregon Class 6A Player of the Year and 2015 Gatorade Oregon Player of the Year. According to MaxPreps, he was ranked first in Oregon, and 170th in the entire nation.

During his senior year, he was ranked 43rd in ESPN’s 100 for 2016. In his position, he was ranked 8th in the class of 2016. Payton Pritchard committed to Oklahoma University, at first, before fully committing to the University of Oregon. Even with the skill-level jump between college and high school, Pritchard did not find himself at odds.

His college career was full of highlight worthy moments, such as getting named as Pac-12 MVP in 2019. Payton Pritchard represented the U.S on a couple national teams. He was in the FIBA 3x3 Under-18 World Championship as well as the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup.Interestingly enough, he declared for the 2019 NBA Draft, but ended up staying one more year at Oregon. This decision was a good one, as he had the best season of his college career during his senior season. 

He averaged:

  • 20.5 points

  • 5.5 assists

  • 4.3 rebounds 

He was also awarded:

  • Pac-12 Player of the Year (2020)

  • All-American Selection (2020)

  • Bob Cousy Award (2020)

  • Lute Olsen Award (2020)

  • First-team All-Pac-12 (2020)

  • Second-team All-Pac-12 (2018)

  • Pac-12 Tournament MOP (2019)

The Bob Cousy Award is only given to those who show that they are an elite point guard. However, not just any elite point guard, the best point guard in the entirety of collegiate sports in the nation. The Lute Olsen award is given to the most outstanding player in D1 NCAA basketball. Payton’s Pritchard’s decision to stay one more year was evidently one of the best decisions he’s ever made. 

Professional Career

Payton Pritchard in the middle of intensely dribbling a basketball while wearing a green Boston Celtics uniform

After his award-packed senior season, Payton again declared for the NBA Draft. He was drafted 26th overall in the first round by the Boston Celtics. He had a decent rookie year, before hitting the wall that many players are familiar with. However, he scored an at-then career high of 23 points, a game winning layup, and his still-career high of 28 points. These achievements happened on January 4th, 6th, and April 27th, 2021 respectively. 

Back on February 12th, 2021, in an interview (in his car!), Payton said, “It’s our job to space the floor, and you know, find openings for them [Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown]”.

In the present day, it could not be more different. Pritchard has scored 9 points or more in 15 games this season (2021-22). With Ime’s coaching, his elite sharpshooting skills have been put on a display. Not only that, but the team looks for him instead of the other way around. I mean, who wouldn’t, when you have someone who shoots 40% from the three point line (50% since the All-Star break), paired with 57% true shooting?

One criticism that Payton Pritchard has endured during his career is his defense. The league today is very lengthy and tall. The average height is 6’7, with a 6’10 wingspan. He is 6’1, with a 6’4 wingspan. Yet, the scrappiness, intensity, and pure joy he exudes while on the court cannot simply be spelled out on any statistics list or box score.

What separates Pritchard is his insatiable drive to improve and become better as a complete player. While he may not be considered by many to be a defensive mastermind, he still holds some defensive prowess. A developing player is one that has potential. That potential goes only as far as the work you are willing to put in, and Payton Pritchard is willing to put that work in. 

In response to his reputation as a defender, he had this to say; “ I hear it all the time, like I can't defend or something, so I got a chip on my shoulder and I'm out to prove that I'm not somebody you can go at”. 

He’s a fighter, and he’s only an NBA sophomore. I believe that he will continue to develop as a player due to the people around him. His contribution to the Celtics as of now has led them to heights that everyone would have laughed at you for believing they would reach at the beginning of the season (3/25/22).

The Future

Payton Pritchard in a white Boston Celtics home jersey running while dribbling a ball and motioning for the offense

Fortunately, the future seems bright for Payton Pritchard. The Boston Celtics this year underwent a large restructuring, in terms of both the front office and the team itself. Ime Udoka’s grand plan has the Celtics pushing the pace at all times, luckily for Pritchard, he loves playing fast and with boundless energy. In an interview, before the new coach came into the picture, on April 27th, 2021, he stressed how important pushing the pace is to him. 

A reporter asked, “It feels like you’re always trying to ramp it up and get up the floor, but the team isn’t always pushing that pace this year. What’s kinda the mindset as a group trying to get up off the floor at a high rate?”

Pritchard replied, “I think we want to play fast, you know, I think it’s just a mindset so you know it’s something we’re going to keep working on and continue to do because I think we’re very capable of playing that way, but you know, our focus really just needs to be on the defensive end and becoming a defensive minded team and really locking in against stops”.

It’s almost as if he predicted the future. That very next season, the Celtics hired a coach which would lead them to the best defense and offense in the league. The way the coach did that, was making a game plan where they can push the pace at all times, while being an elite defensive force. Pritchard must be in his element. He is only in his second year in the league, and is also only 24 years old. With plenty of time to develop as well as a great development organization in the Celtics, we could only guess on how far he will advance. 

The Takeaway

Payton Pritchard looking to his left while on the Detroit Pistons home court and wearing the Boston Celtics uniform

The takeaway from this article is that Payton Pritchard is an athlete who works hard and is always willing to improve. He does not have an ego, and he does what’s asked of him. He loves the competition, and it serves to fuel him. 

Back in college, in an interview, when discussing the upcoming season, Pritchard said, “We're just looking forward to the challenge.”

Who is Payton Pritchard? Well, that one sentence should tell you all you need to know.

Media content through NBA.com, NBC, USAToday, BleacherReport . All copyrights to those who hold it.


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