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Payton Pritchard May End Up Being In An Elite Group That Consists Of Only Himself

Celtics have sputtered with late-first-round picks. Until now?


Rookie Payton Pritchard was taken with the 26th pick. 

The Boston Celtics, the greatest basketball organization of all time, has been masters at drafting talent, from Cousy, Heinsohn, Jones & Russell, to White, Hondo, Cowens, Bird & McHale, then Pierce, Rondo, and now Tatum, Smart & Brown. 

What all of these players have in common besides being all-time (or potential all-time) Celtics greats is that they were all high draft picks. 

Once we get to number 26 or later the Celtics have never (and I mean never) drafted a player who made an immediate impact. 

Let’s look at some of those guys:

The closest we get to the present is 2004 with Delonte West & Tony Allen. (24th & 25th overall). Neither was an immediate contributor, although Tony Allen did have his moments in 2008 helping us win our 17th World Championship  

In 1991 we drafted Rick Fox 21st. He had a decent rookie season, played 19 minutes a game. You could see flashes of a nice player. 

In 1989 we drafted Dino Radja 40th overall. Great pick. Made an immediate impact as a rookie; however, his rookie season came in 1993. 

Rick Carlisle was a 3rd round pick in 84. He never averaged more that 2.6 PPG as a member of the Celtics. 

Now in 1981 Red Auerbach took a flier on a two-sport kid out of BYU. Definitely our best 2nd round pick in the post ABA era. Yet even Danny Ainge barely hit 4PPG as a rookie. 

We did draft Charlie Scott in the 7th round in 1970 but he only made it back to Boston in 1975 after stints with Virginia in the ABA and then Phoenix. 

KC Jones was in fact a second round pick for the Celtics but he was definitely chosen well before the 26th overall pick. 

Now comes Payton Pritchard, the 26th pick in the 2020 NBA draft. It’s hard to believe that after so many years the Celtics will finally be able to say they found an immediate contributor this late in the draft. 

You know what they say...better late than never. 

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