Boston Celtics point guard Payton Pritchard is sparkling in the Summer League as he is poised to possibly nail down the back-up point guard position.
The young Celtics trounced the Denver Nuggets summer team, 107-82. Pritchard had a stellar performance for Boston. The second-year man had 21 points, 12 assists, and eight rebounds in a complete performance.
Aaron Nesmith was also a big contributor as he led all Celtics scorers with 33 points, including six for seven from three-point land. He’s seemingly on track to be a solid bench contributor with his great shooting touch this season. But it was Pritchard’s night all-around.
Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard emerging as a solid offensive star
Performances like Pritchard’s last night bode well for a Celtics team that was on the prowl for point-guard after the trade of Kemba Walker to Oklahoma City.
Having signed Dennis Schroder on a one-year deal for the mid-level exception amount of a very thrifty $5.9M (ostensibly to start?), Pritchard may be penciled in for the backup point guard job.
Interestingly, Schroder had turned down an $80M deal from the Lakers last season. Timing is everything.
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Performances like Pritchard’s against Denver demonstrate that Pritchard has matured since his rookie season last year.
He’s showing his ability to not only knock down jumpers of all varieties but dish the ball to his teammates to fatten up their point totals and the team’s.
The emergence of Pritchard and his solid showing to date in the Summer League, albeit against untested rookies and other young players, seems to bolster the likelihood that he could very well be the back-up to the aforementioned Schroder.
Might these two occurrences signal that a deal of Marcus Smart, in some observers’ mind the presumptive starting point guard before the Schroder signing, is imminent?
Add Pritchard’s emergence to Schroder’s signing and he may just be expendable. It will be interesting to see if Boston will wheel the veteran Smart this off-season or be ready to sign him to a big extension.
Pritchard’s emergence as a scorer, an assist-maker, and a floor general has certainly made defensive wizard Smart’s deal more probable.
The young point guard looks more than ready to assume that position should he be called upon. Last season as an older rookie (23, he’ll turn 24 in January), Pritchard showed flashes but only averaged a meager 7.7 points per game to go along with 1.8 assists.
Those are not exactly earth-shattering numbers even for a rookie. Yet, in a second-year player, what Pritchard is demonstrating in the Summer League is that he is possibly ready to be a major contributor to Boston in that back-up point guard role.
That second-year jump (a la Bill Belichick and his Patriots) is exactly what the Celtics would be looking for in this player and what they will need to see if they are to seriously consider dealing Smart.
The Boston Celtics will have to feel total confidence that Pritchard can carry the backup load before in any way strongly considering sending Smart packing.
Yet, there are recent rumors of Celtics’ interest in big forward, Laurie Markkanen, a restricted free agent from the Bulls. Might Smart somehow be shoehorned into a deal for this player? It’s an interesting potentiality.
Who knows? Though Markkanen had a down year for the Bulls last season, the 24-year-old has averaged 15.6 points over his career and 7.1 boards. And, he’s a legitimate seven-footer and a top shooter.
This becomes a possibility with Schroder on board to ostensibly start with Pritchard the potential backup performing so well at the beginning of his second year, if Smart is wheeled.
We’ll see what eventuates. One thing is certain though, Payton Pritchard’s emergence as both a scorer and an assist-maker is positive news for the Boston Celtics.