Celtics Rookie Emerging as Potential Payton Pritchard Replacement

Payton Pritchard, Boston Celtics

Getty Payton Pritchard, Boston Celtics

Payton Pritchard might feel like his days with the Boston Celtics are numbered and that he will be representing a different organization before his current contract expires at the end of the 2023-24 NBA season.

Unfortunately for Pritchard, he currently finds himself behind Marcus Smart, Derrick White, and Malcolm Brogdon in the Celtics rotation – a spot usually reserved for a young player in need of developmental minutes on an ad-hoc basis. Enter JD Davison, Boston’s late 2022 second-round draft pick.

While with the Maine Celtics in the G-League, Davison is lighting things up and proving he’s ready to taste NBA-level competition, even if it’s only in garbage time.

“The 20-year-old has totaled only eight minutes across three appearances with Boston this season. The team is prioritizing his development and has opted to mostly keep him in the G League, with playing time at a premium with the parent club. Davison has shown flashes of being a regular contributor in the NBA and will look to continue to develop and improve in Maine. The team has found great success in the past with its G League affiliate and will be looking to continue that with Davison,” Cody Taylor of USA Today wrote on December 20.

Taylor’s article came hot on the heels of an impressive performance from Davison, where he provided his team with 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists on 5-of-12 shooting from the field to help lead them to a victory over the South Bay Lakers.

Celtics Facing Ultimatum on Payton Pritchard’s Future

According to a December 15 article by Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, the Celtics are at a crossroads with Pritchard simply because he’s too talented to remain glued to their bench in what are still developmental years for the third-year guard.

“The 24-year-old needs a real shot to show what he can do…He has serious spark-plug potential if he could just find regular minutes. Those are hard to come by in a crowded Boston backcourt, but the Celtics should either entrust him with a more prominent role or send him to another team that will,” Buckley wrote.

Since being drafted by the Celtics with the 26th pick in the 2020 draft, Pritchard has averaged 6.7 points, 21. rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game while shooting 40.6% from three-point land and 47.3% inside of the perimeter.

Malcolm Brogdon Is Embracing a Leadership Role

Pritchard’s route to consistent minutes all but evaporated this summer when the Celtics acquired Brogdon via trade. In another blow to Pritchard’s hopes of cracking Boston’s rotation, their latest guard addition is rapidly growing into a leading voice within the locker room.

A good example of Brogdon’s growing influence can be seen from his appearance on NBC Sports Boston’s post-game show following the Celtics’ December 16 defeat at the hands of the Orlando Magic, where the veteran held his teammates accountable for their lack of effort down the stretch.

“They played harder. They made shots. We did not make shots that we usually make tonight. But overall, I thought they gave more effort, and I think that’s the issue. It’s not the non-shot-making; it’s the effort. We’ll pick it up on Sunday, for sure…There are no excuses…We’re a veteran team, we’re trying to win a championship here, so there are no excuses. They outplayed us tonight,” Brogdon said.

Boston will be hoping that Brogdon’s leadership, coupled with the elite talent residing throughout their roster, will be enough to help them snap out of their current funk and overcome the Indiana Pacers when the two teams face off on December 21.

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