Danny Ainge Payton Pritchard
Danny Ainge has been impressed with Payton Pritchard thus far. He’s been exactly the kind of player the Celtics needed all along. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Danny Ainge Is Impressed With Payton Pritchard

The NBA Draft is a crapshoot but half the battle is finding a grown up who can play from day one. The losers of NBA Twitter didn’t seem to grasp that when they slandered the former Oregon point guard.

Pritchard was a player that was on my list and I was thrilled when Boston selected him with the 26th overall pick. After starting out his NBA career on fire, Danny Ainge spoke about what Pritchard has meant to the team.

VIA Toucher and Rich:

“It’s hard to know how it’s all going to fit when your drafting players. I really liked Payton, watching him play for the last four years at University of Oregon, but you never know how it’s going to work with a coach and with the other players on the team,” said Ainge. “He was a kid that just, from Day 1, I think he got the attention of the veteran players and the coaches. It’s just been a good fit …

“I think his work ethic, his grit, right away he wasn’t intimidated, he felt like he belonged, he showed it in the first scrimmages that we had in training camp, and I think he just earned their respect for all those reasons.”

“He’s been the kind of player that we needed,” said Ainge. “His shooting has been very important; he’s made some big shots and big plays. He’s shown that he can compete, defensively, against some bigger guys. He’s been a very fun player to watch so far.”

Pritchard, 22, has provided the type of spark Boston needed. It wasn’t hard to be better than Brad Wanamaker from a year ago. Even still, Pritchard has been so good that he’s become a dark horse rookie of the year pick.

Pritchard’s impact on the floor isn’t hard to notice. Pritchard has a +9.2 net rating when on the floor. When he sits, the net rating plummets to -4.8. All of those bad Wanamaker minutes have turned into a positive for the Celtics a year later. It’s made all the difference in the world.