Due to the lack of cap space that will be available this offseason, it is essential for the Sixers to find key role players in the draft. While it is unlikely they use all of them, the Sixers are equipped with 4 second-round picks in addition to the Thunder’s first-rounder in this year’s draft. Finding a player that could make an impact on the team with one of these second-rounders would help the team drastically. One player that could make a much larger impact than his draft slot would suggest would be Payton Pritchard.
Pritchard stands around 6’2 and plays with a toughness and grittiness that would fit with the Sixers and the city of Philadelphia right away. He was a starter all 4 years at Oregon and his game has many similarities to former Sixer legend, TJ McConnell. Since TJ left Philly there has been a spark that has been missing amongst the bench players that Pritchard would have a chance to bring back. Finding a reliable backup point-guard is right near the top of need the Sixers need to address which makes this pick make sense in that regard as well.
While McConnell also played all 4 years of college ball, Pritchard’s game is a little more complete than TJ’s coming out of college. Payton is much more developed offensively, especially as a shooter than TJ has ever shown to be. Pritchard has NBA range already and has shown to be effective in his off-ball movement as well as catch-and-shoot, which is extremely important for his fit with the Sixers. He shoots the ball with confidence and has no problem taking the big shot, which was especially seen in his most recent season at Oregon. Pritchard is very effective in the pick-and-roll and has a great feel for finding the open man when help defense comes his way. While his assist numbers don’t pop off the page, he effectively ran the Oregon offense and still managed over 170 assists in each of the last 3 seasons.
Defensively Pritchard has not quite put all the pieces together yet. He has an admirable motor but has a tendency to get beat off the dribble and often committed unnecessary fouls because of this. He over-exaggerates his closeout which leaves him susceptible to a pump fake or dribble move. Pritchard is not a particularly good athlete and will likely be overmatched by just about every matchup, but seems to have the desire and energy to overcome this. His foot speed needs work and that is limiting to his potential as a defender, but not to the point where it makes him a liability.
Overall, Pritchard has had one of the most decorated careers in college basketball history. He is the only player in Pac-12 history to score 1900+ points along with 500+ rebounds and 600+ assists. He showed improvement each year and took his game to a whole new level this year. Pritchard won the Bob Cousey award for the nation’s top point guard, as well as being a consensus all-American and winning the Pac-12 player of the year in his senior season. His scoring numbers jumped to 20.5 points per game this year and he shot a reliable 41.5% from 3 point range.
Pritchard is expected to be an early-mid second-round pick when the draft rolls around. While these will no doubt switch a few spots, the Sixers are projected to have the 34th, 36th, 49th, and 59th pick in the draft. Pritchard is more than worth a flyer with one of those picks. It wasn’t until this season that Pritchard put his name onto the NBA draft boards as he developed into a much more complete player. The Sixers have a major need for a backup point guard who can step in and run the offense and Pritchard can immediately fill this role. If he puts a focus on developing as a defender and continues the shooting that he showed in college, he will find a role on the team and carve a career in the NBA which is all you can hope for in a 2nd round pick.
Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Lifelong Philly Sports fan and current college student at Alvernia University. Writes about Sixers and Phillies and Co-Host of Pick Swap Podcast
Twitter: @Sean_Barnard1 and @PickSwapPod