Payton Pritchard: Guard, University of Oregon
- 6’2”, 190 lbs, 22 years old, from West Linn, OR
- 2019-20 season at Oregon: 36.6 minutes per game, 20.5 points per game on 46.8% shooting (41.5% from three, 82.1% from the free throw line), 5.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals.
- Four seasons at Oregon: 33.7 minutes per game, 13.5 points per game on 43.7% shooting (37.9% from three, 80% from the free throw line), 4.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals.
- THREE ADVANCED STATS OF STRENGTH (per Tankathon.com): Offensive Box Plus/Minus (10.0), Offensive Win Shares Per 40 Minutes (.187), Projected NBA Three Point Range (38.3%)
- ADVANCED STATS TO IMPROVE: Blocks (7 career blocks), FTA Rate (30.3%)
- ACCOLADES: 2019-20 PAC-12 Player of the Year, 2019-20 Consensus All-American (1st Team), 2019-20 Wooden Award Finalist, 2019-20 Bob Cousy Award, 2019-20 All-PAC-12 (1st team), 2017-18 All-PAC-12 (2nd team)
- CURRENT BIG BOARD PLACEMENTS: 49th overall (Tankathon), 37th overall (ESPN), 51st overall (CBSSports), 33rd overall (The Athletic)
Not long ago, I had an Oregon Duck that won PAC-12 Player of the Year on my draft radar. Though the Memphis Grizzlies didn’t have a pick, I wanted to speak it into existence: this player would become a Memphis Grizzly. Yes, that player was Dillon Brooks.
This year, I’m looking to do this again with another accomplished Oregon Duck, Payton Pritchard. The 6’2” guard capped off an excellent collegiate career with a 20-4-5 season and a boat-load of accolades. Though he’s one of the best players in the country by collegiate standards, like many others before him his draft stock isn’t as high due to his age and his physical attributes.
However, Pritchard possesses a number of tools that project well for him at the next level. He can shoot the 3, run an offense, and put the ball on the floor to create for himself and others. There isn’t any reason he can’t be a good NBA backup point guard and one of the steals of the 2020 NBA draft.
What He Does Well
Payton Pritchard’s game fits the prototype of an NBA backup point guard.
Most second units are run by point guards that do a great job of changing the pace of the game, and Pritchard does an excellent job of putting pressure on the defense. He’s a quick guard that’s shifty in the open court and aggressive when attacking downhill. With his offensive repertoire, he’s unpredictable when attacking in the half-court. He can stop and pop for a mid-range jumper, find his teammates for a better look, or finish at the rim himself. That type of skillset versatility should open up the offense for most second units.
The differentiating skill for Pritchard, one that could make him a decade-long NBA point guard, is his 3-point shot. His percentages already pop off the stat sheet, but his volume is impressive, as he made 41.5% of his 3’s and shot 6.8 triples a game. He also flashed NBA range and the ability to hit 3’s off the move. If that translates at the next level, he can become a good rotation player on just about any NBA team.
Where He Can Improve
At the next level, Pritchard must show his worth on the defensive end. At Oregon, his defensive production was wishy-washy. He posted good steal numbers and two seasons with a DBPM greater than 2, but he also had two other years where he was closer to a 0. Granted, his offense could make up for it, but to be a playoff rotation player he can’t be a liability on that end. In addition, it’d be beneficial if he could show that he could defend both guard positions.
While he displayed some wicked shot-making ability in college, he must hone in on his decision-making in that aspect of his game. A lot of the shots he got off at Oregon are questionable. I don’t know how he would get those shots off against NBA defenders. If he relies on off-balanced, contested 3’s too often, his NBA career might not go past his rookie deal.
On the Memphis Grizzlies, Payton Pritchard would be a solid third-string point guard behind Ja Morant and Tyus Jones. In his rookie season, he’ll probably see more time with the Memphis Hustle instead of the Grizzlies, but that’s totally fine. Frankly, that’s the likely outcome for anybody they select with the 40th pick, because of the Grizzlies’ depth going in to next season. Pritchard can get reps orchestrating an NBA offense, while staying ready in case he needs to fill in for emergency purposes (God forbid!).
In Jenkins’ system, Pritchard seems like a golden fit. In a broad sense, he’s a playmaker that can shoot the 3. With his outside shooting though, it allows the Grizzlies to throw different looks at the defense. He doesn’t need to bring the ball up every time, as he can spot up and be ready to fire from deep while Justise Winslow, De’Anthony Melton, or Kyle Anderson run the offense in the second unit.
By year 2 or year 3, he could become a rotation player for the Grizzlies, as some players ahead of him in the depth chart may eventually get paid elsewhere.
Payton Pritchard had an excellent college career, and he has the makings to be a good NBA player for a long time.
There are plenty of players before him that have decorated collegiate careers, but were knocked for age and physical attributes and fell into the second round — Malcolm Brogdon, Draymond Green, Devonte Graham, and Dillon Brooks. Prtichard could fall suit and become another four-year college player that was successful in both the NBA and the NCAA.
Granted, given the uncertainty revolving around this draft, teams may try to be safer here, leading to Pritchard going into the first round. It also wouldn’t be a reach either. Given recent trends though, Pritchard is more than likely going to fall into the second round. If the Grizzlies have the chance, they shouldn’t hesitate on Pritchard.
Prediction: Pritchard falls in the second round, but ends up being picked in the mid-30’s.