This short offseason seems to have been enough time for Boston Celtics players Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart to gauge the performance of the new additions to their team. Both of them are in agreement that rookie Payton Pritchard will make an impact this season.
Pritchard was the 22nd overall pick by the Celtics in the 2020 NBA Draft. And so far, both Tatum and Smart are impressed by what the Oregon product has shown in training camp.
“I kind of had a feeling that he would be a guy for me that would stand out,” Smart told Celtics reporters on a Zoom call Thursday evening, per Tom Westerholm of boston.com. “I was looking forward to seeing what he has, and he hasn’t disappointed yet.”
Tatum echoed Smart's sentiments on Pritchard. He also heaped praise on Aaron Nesmith's shooting ability for the Celtics.
“I like those guys a lot,” Tatum said. “They work hard. Aaron can really shoot. He’s really physically gifted athleticism and strength-wise. And Payton, obviously he’s shooting the ball really well and he really knows how to play and he competes at a high level, and I like that.”
Pritchard played for four years in Oregon where he was considered one of the best players in the country during his senior year. Apart from being named into the first-team All-American, he also snagged the Lute Olson Award and the Bob Cousy Award, Cousy having been a Celtics icon.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens already knew of Pritchard's potential and that's why they selected him in the first round. He also knows why Smart gravitated towards the 22-year-old.
“He’s tough, he knows how to play, he’s physical, he shoots the ball,” Stevens said of the Celtics' backup guard. “So I think that he certainly has had a good couple of days. What that means in the long run, big picture, there’s still a lot to sort out. I’m not surprised that he’s stood out to Marcus. I do think that he’s got a lot of courage, I believe he’s got a lot of grit. Obviously, that’s why we picked him in the first round, why he’s a good player.”
Celtics fans better be prepared for a treat in the coming 2020-21 NBA season. Apart from the return of Smart and Tatum, the rookie Prichard is someone they should look out for.