Boston Celtics: Payton Pritchard is X-factor for the 2022-23 NBA season

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 08: Payton Pritchard #11 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 08: Payton Pritchard #11 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Heading into the 2022-23 NBA season, the Boston Celtics are pretty much consensus favorites, co-favorites at worst, to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy as NBA Champions. They’ve got established stars, crafty vets, and all the right pieces to round it out.

While the C’s are well stocked at every position, point guard in particular looks to be an area of strength. The “loved and trusted” Marcus Smart leads the group, but behind him are Derrick White, now with an offseason in the program under his belt, and newcomer Malcolm Brogdon.

Just from those three, it’s clear that the Celtics have one the best PG groups in the league. But not so fast, because there’s a young guard lurking in the shadows who has the potential to elevate the group even further: Payton Pritchard.

Payton Pritchard an X-Factor for Boston Celtics

Make no mistake about it: Pritchard is going to have to earn his minutes, because nothing is going to be given for free this year. With those established names ahead of him, he’s going to have to prove that he deserves playing time.

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But every time the guy takes the floor, fans are left wondering what he could do if he was given just a little more leash, a little more opportunity. Again, that has to be earned, but there’s every reason to believe that can happen this year. Like the entire roster, Pritchard started last year slow, but by the end of the season was contributing to winning in a major way.

And of course, we’ve all seen the work he’s been putting in this offseason. After last summer’s dominating Pro-Am performance, Pritchard has been all over social media again this year for rocking a mask while giving out buckets. As far as I’m concerned, he’s in third place on the all-time power ranking of offseason Twitter highlight videos behind only Hoodie Melo and Rucker Park Durant.

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Payton Pritchard a perfect fit next to other Boston Celtics guards

One of the only deficiencies in Pritchard’s game is his defensive limitations. It’s clear that he’s giving it his all on defense, but just like Isaiah Thomas before him, there’s only so much you can do when a 6’8 small forward gets switched onto you at his size.

That’s where the rest of the Celtics roster comes into play. It’s a group that is poised to put up some tremendous defensive numbers, as every member of the starting five last season earned All-Defensive team votes, and they’re all back again. Add White, Brogdon, and Grant Williams to that discussion, and I can’t think of a better group to cover for a guy who can change the game on the other end with his shot-making.

And boy, can he ever shoot. When was the last time Pritchard came into a game and didn’t immediately knock down a long three? When he’s on, it feels like everything is going in, no matter how deep the shot. That kind of long-range marksmanship is incredibly valuable in the league today, especially if you can hit those shots at a high clip like the third year guard has proven he can.

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On a team loaded with talent, don’t overlook the impact that Payton Pritchard could have this season for the Boston Celtics. He won’t lead the team in points, or even be the first guy off the bench most games, but if the former Oregon guard gets his chance, he needs to take it and run. If he does, he’ll make the C’s an even more dangerous team, and that’s what makes him the Celtics X-Factor.