The Boston Celtics’ season is over and now it’s time to look ahead to next year. That process began with Boston’s first exit interviews, where some of their youngsters took to the podium to talk about the past year and the upcoming offseason.
Among those players was point guard Payton Pritchard. Despite struggling to find consistent playing time early in the season, he became a permanent fixture in the rotation by the end of the year. Unfortunately, his three-point touch just wasn’t there in the NBA Finals, shooting just 21.4% from deep.
When asked about his goals for the upcoming season, Pritchard cited the inconsistent protocols mentioned above. His goal is to become a regular part of the rotation from the jump.
“My first goal is to find consistent minutes every night and where I can gain the confidence where I can be out there 20 minutes a night rather than it faltering…earn the right…to be able to trust me to play this game.” play in and out and deliver… shots will be fired,” explained Pritchard.
Pritchard’s minutes fell last season. He averaged 19.2 minutes per game in his rookie year, but he played 14.1 minutes in the 2021–22 season. In the postseason, that number shrank even more as he averaged just 12.9 minutes.
Pritchard also spoke about his personal struggles as well as the team’s early struggles and how they overcame them.
Pritchard: “Everyone’s shopped”
After a tough start to the season, the Celtics were still a sub-.500 team in mid-January. However, according to Pritchard, both he and the team were able to turn things around once they embraced the message head coach Ime Udoka was preaching.
“Of course it was difficult for me at the beginning, mainly because I wasn’t playing. But I think Ime did a great job this year. I just walked in, and I think a lot of people had doubts right away. Of course we didn’t start the season the way we wanted, but everyone did their part and in the end we made a run.” said Pritchard.
Udoka finished fourth in the Coach of the Year poll, and as Pritchard once again proved his worth, his production began to soar. From January 15 through the end of the season, Pritchard averaged 7.1 points, 1.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists on 47.3% shots from the field and 44.0% from behind the three-point line.
The young point guard also said that Boston’s success this year is just the beginning and that they have a bright future ahead of them.
Pritchard says Celtics set the tone going forward
Boston made it to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010, and while they didn’t finish the job, Pritchard said they will be able to build on that experience.
“We’re kind of setting the tone for the future and for years to come. We’re setting an expectation now and we’re just building on that,” Pritchard said.
At just 24, Pritchard still has plenty of room to grow in his career, as does this young and hungry Celtics squad.