Celtics Star Wowed By Payton Pritchard: ‘Hasn’t Disappointed Me Yet’

Getty Images Payton Pritchard hopes to make an early impact for the Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics rookie Payton Pritchard received high praise from one of his veteran teammates.

For Marcus Smart, next Tuesday’s preseason matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers will be nothing more than a scrimmage for the Celtics to gauge where their progression stands against outside competition. For Pritchard, it’s his very first taste of NBA basketball.

Marcus Smart On Payton Pritchard: ‘Was Looking Forward To See What He Has, He Hasn’t Disappointed Yet’

So, when Smart was asked if any one of his new teammates’ play has impressed him this early in the season, Marcus’ response certainly raised a few eyebrows.

“I’d probably say Payton Pritchard for me,” Smart said, per WEEI.com. “I kind of had a feeling that he would be a guy that would stand out, and I was looking forward to see what he has. He hasn’t disappointed yet.”

The Oregan product fresh off a four-year stay comes to Boston looking to carve out a role for Brad Stevens’ Kemba Walker-less backcourt. The gritty prospect certainly shares some characteristics with the Celtics’ All NBA-Defensive First Team standout, in terms of how they approach the game.

Brad Stevens Sees Marcus Smart In Payton Pritchard: ‘He’s Got A Lot Of Courage’

Stevens explained, Thursday afternoon.

“He’s tough. He knows how to play. He’s physical. He can shoot the ball,” Stevens said, per WEEI.com. “I think 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 he stood out to Marcus. I do think that he’s got a lot of courage.

“I think he’s got a lot of grit. Obviously, that’s why he was picked in the first round, and it’s why he’s a good player.”

Along with Smart and Pritchard, on the depth chart, will be newly acquired veteran point guard Jeff Teague. He’s someone who, like Pritchard, can also facilitate and be a high-volume scorer for Stevens whether he’s coming off the bench or starting at point.

Moments after the Pritchard pick was announced during the 2020 NBA Draft, former Celtics champion and ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins was elated. He couldn’t hide his reaction on television before explaining why he’s so high on the 22-year-old prospect, who had projected as a second-round sleeper.

“This kid can flat-out go, he’s relentless, I don’t know why they had him so low on the Mock Draft but I love him,” Perkins said. “I keep telling you all; Danny Ainge and I have the same type of brain cells, we think alike. This is a hell of a pick-up for them.”

Jayson Tatum On Payton Pritchard: ‘He Competes At A High Level, I Like That

Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum is a fan, as well.

Tatum talked about Pritchard when he was asked about the rookies. After complimenting the Celtics’ No. 14 pick Aaron Nesmith on his shooting touch and physical attributes, Jayson discussed Pritchard’s impressive skillset.

“I like those guys. They work hard,” Tatum said, per WEEI.com. “Aaron can really shoot. He’s really physically gifted, athleticism and strength-wise. Payton, obviously he can shoot. He really knows how to play, and he competes at a high level. I like that.”

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