NBA Hoops

Payton Pritchard’s performance in Toronto is a reminder of Boston’s luxury of guard depth

Payton Pritchard’s performance in Toronto is a reminder of Boston’s luxury of guard depth

We’ve all thought about it. Some of us have even said it, and to be honest, I’ve written about it on this very platform: ‘with the Boston Celtics‘ embarrassment of riches at the guard position, it would be better for Payton Pritchard’s career if the team found a way to move him before the February 9 trade deadline.’

On December 21, I wrote about the pros and cons of trading Pritchard and noted why, from an optics standpoint, the Celtics could find value in doing what’s right by the player.

“Personally, I’m of the belief that doing what’s best for a player’s career is always the right move, especially when you have the talent to cover any gap their potential departure could cause. Pritchard has proven himself in the NBA, as is clearly capable of being the primary guard off the bench for almost any team in the league, so he should be afforded that opportunity. After all, players work incredibly hard to make it into the NBA in the first place, so if the talent is there, and they’ve proven themselves at every turn, keeping them buried on the bench is unfair when you look at it from a human standpoint.”

Yet, as I sat and watched Pritchard come alive down the stretch against the Toronto Raptors in a game where Marcus Smart was hurt and unable to return, I changed my tune. I wasn’t thinking about how other players might view Boston or how Pritchard’s skillset is worthy of a consistently bigger role somewhere else. No. I was thinking how lucky are the Celtics to have this sort of talent sitting on the bench as a backup.

Pritchard is the fifth guard in Boston’s rotation, behind Smart, Malcolm Brogdon, Derrick White, and Jaylen Brown (who plays down a position at the two=spot). How many 5th string guards in the NBA have the green light to shoot a transition three in a close game with just 5:55 remaining on the clock? My guess is none, or at least hardly any.

However, Pritchard isn’t your usual end-of-bench guard who is getting minutes due to unforeseen circumstances. No. Pritchard is a bonafide ‘first guard off the bench’ talent for the majority of teams in the league. He just happens to be in a tough spot right now where he is part of an extremely talented backcourt rotation.

Here is another example of what Pritchard can bring to the table when he’s given the opportunity and enough minutes to develop a rhythm for how the defense is playing him and the game is flowing.

Playing as the ‘popper’ in a Spain pick-and-roll…

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