Potential Sixers Draft Target – Payton Pritchard

This is the first installment in a series of player profiles for June’s NBA draft. While we are still unsure of the full Sixers’ draft capital, this series will cover targets that will likely be available at the back-end of the draft or in the undrafted free agency market. And as we have learned from teams such as Toronto, SIGNIFICANT talent can be found in this range. Today, we look at Oregon guard Payton Pritchard.

OVERVIEW

My friends, Payton Pritchard has seen it all. A 1-point Final Four loss. A conference championship. A disappointing NIT year. And as the Ducks’ point guard, the head of Oregon’s high-power attack. But what makes him a unique player speaks to more than just his journey. In over 4,800 minutes running the show at Eugene, Pritchard has taken considerable strides. With the increased workload, Pritchard has gone from complementary piece to PAC-12 Player of the Year – highlighted by a senior year that saw him average a career best 20 points per game in the regular season. But Pritchard is more than just a scorer. And his draft portfolio speaks to a player that has matured in many areas of the basketball court.

STRENGTHS

  • A crafty ball handler. Knows how to position his body to create own shot in the half court
  • Strong and able to finish through contact
  • Deep NBA range as an off-the-catch option
  • Tremendous basketball IQ and a decisive passer. Sees rollers and cutters behind the defense 
  • Comfortable pulling up in transition. Adds value as a ‘drive and kick’ option in the open court.

WEAKNESSES

  • Limited athlete. Lacks the explosion to get by quicker defenders and elevate to the rim
  • Will require coaching and proper spacing to scheme scoring opportunities in the half court 
  • Struggles to defend size. Does not have core body strength to anchor defensively
  • Primarily a ‘straight line’ ball handler. Does not possess wiggle to get by shiftier defenders
  • Can the shot translate at the next level due to his lack of size and length? 

FILM HIGHLIGHT

One of Payton Pritchard’s unique traits is the ability to contribute as a combo guard. On the ball, he has demonstrated a high level understanding of how to run a half court offense. Primarily in the pick-and-roll where Pritchard’s quick decision making (and vision) is often a source of easy buckets for Oregon.

Off the ball, Pritchard has developed into an elite scorer. While concerns exist around his ability to shoot over bigger defenders, he is able to extend Oregon’s offense by knocking it down from deep NBA range. Pritchard has turned into one of the nation’s top high-volume three point shooters. He has the quick trigger and confidence to let it fly without much hesitation. 

Here is how both of these traits play out against Washington State.

 

POSSIBLE FIT

Envisioning a basketball fit in Philadelphia requires Ben Simmons’ continuing evolution as an off ball weapon. What Pritchard primarily brings is immediate shooting and passing to pair with both of the Sixers’ star players. As a point guard, Pritchard’s role oscillates between running pick-and-roll and pushing the Ducks’ offense in transition. Playing him with either Simmons or Embiid gives Philadelphia an extra ball handler to find Ben on the fast break and empower Joel as a rim runner. Pritchard can also contribute to spacing the floor in the half court. He is a highly confident (static) shooter that rises up without much hesitation. A trait that can be utilized with Embiid drawing double teams and Simmons pushing the offense on the break.

Some concerns exist around Pritchard’s defensive impact. While the effort is never in question, he simply does not possess the dynamic athletic traits to be an impact defender. The lack of length and explosion is concerning and would likely be exploited at the next level. Pairing him with a defensive oriented wing or rim protector is ideal and it would hide some of his defensive deficiencies. The Sixers are relatively equipped to do so. From Thybulle to Embiid, Philadelphia does have an abundance defensive talent to put alongside Pritchard and mask his shortcomings.

STAT NUGGETS 

  • Career high usage and assist rate in 2019-2020 (28% USG & 31% AST)
  • Career low turnover rate in 2019-2020 (13%)
  • 41% on 212 3-point attempts in the regular season. (9th among college players with 200+ attempts this regular season)
  • 211 career steals (18th all time in the PAC-12)

SUMMARY

Payton Pritchard is an experienced ball handler that will likely be a 2nd round target for teams looking for a high IQ player. Rookie point guards rarely make an immediate impact in the NBA. However, Pritchard has a chance to become a quick contributor under the right conditions. While his ceiling may be limited, he can most certainly thrive in a heavy pick-and-roll offense that accentuates his passing prowess. Scoring will likely come in the form of catch-and-shoot opportunities. But Pritchard has also shown the ability to create his own shot in the half court. Given the right circumstance, Payton Pritchard is likely to thrive as a backup PG who can contribute 15-20 minutes a game and provide offensive value as a scorer/distributor.