The Boston Celtics’ season is over, and now it’s time to start looking ahead to next year. This process began with Boston’s first set of exit interviews, where a few of their young guys took to the podium to discuss this past year, as well as 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 staple 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 pointed toward the aforementioned inconsistent minutes. His goal is to become a regular part of the rotation from the jump.
“My first goal is finding consistent minutes every night and where I can gain the trust where I can be out there 20 minutes per night, instead of it fluctuating … earn that right … be trusted to do that game in and game out and deliver … shots will fall,” Pritchard explained.
This past season, Pritchard’s minutes dropped. In his rookie year, he averaged 19.2 minutes per game, but during the 2021-22 season, he played 14.1 minutes. In the postseason, that number dwindled even more, as he averaged just 12.9 minutes.
Pritchard also spoke about his personal struggles, as well as the team’s early issues, and how they overcame them.
Pritchard: ‘Everybody Bought In’
After starting off the season rough, the Celtics were still a below-.500 team mid-way through January. However, according to Pritchard, both he and the team were able to turn things around as soon as they bought in to the message head coach Ime Udoka was preaching.
“It was obviously difficult for me at first, especially because I wasn’t playing. But I think Ime did a great job this year. Just came in, and I think a lot of people, we had doubters right away. Obviously, we didn’t start the season like we wanted to, but everybody bought in and we made a run at the end,” said Pritchard.
Udoka finished fourth in Coach of the Year voting, and once Pritchard showed his value again, his production started to ramp up. From January 15 to the end of the season, Pritchard averaged 7.1 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 2.0 assists on 47.3% shooting 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 for the Future’
Boston made it all the way to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010, and even though they weren’t able to finish the job, Pritchard said that they are going to be able to build from this experience.
“We kind of set the tone for the future and for years to come. We set an expectation now, and we’re just going to build from that,” Pritchard stated.
At just 24 years old, Pritchard still has plenty of room to grow in his career, as does this young and hungry Celtics squad.