Last offseason, Payton Pritchard postponed his NBA career to come back and play one more season for the Ducks. Four-year seniors are hard to come by nowadays in college basketball, especially ones that start all four years at one school. It is safe to say that Pritchard has earned himself the honor of being an all time Duck, for any sport.
There were rumors last year that an NBA team gave Pritchard a guarantee of drafting him in the second round. Whether that would have happened or not, Pritchard made the decision to come back to school to improve his game and potentially lead this Oregon team to a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
And he made a name for himself in the process.
This season, Pritchard improved all of his statistical numbers across the board, with much greater efficiency, shooting the highest percentage of his career. There is no doubt Pritchard will remain in the Oregon history books for a long time with the numbers he put up for the Ducks, but in order for him to be successful in the NBA, he will need to find a situation that plays to his strengths.
In this article, we’ll take a look at areas where Pritchard can be successful at the next level. First, let’s go over his greatest strength: finishing around the rim, especially in transition.
As we see in the video above, Pritchard shows great balance and strength when around rim, which gives him the ability to finish through contact and around shot blockers. This will bode well for him at the next level, as it shows he can handle the paint and play a physical style of game.
Next, we see that he already has consistent NBA range.
The NBA has evolved to emphasize three point shooting, benefitting Pritchard as he is capable of spacing the floor and forcing defenders to guard him farther from the basket. This will open up driving lanes while attacking the basket.
Lastly, we will take a look at one of Pritchard’s ball handling workouts. He’s always been a superb ball handler, making smart decisions and rarely turning it over.
Pritchard has complete control of the ball at all times. As a point guard, this in an unheralded trait. It is a luxury knowing that when he is bringing the ball up the court, it’s in safe hands.
Another strength that goes greatly unnoticed is Pritchard’s defensive ability. He gets down in a stance and slides his feet very well to keep players in front of him. Combine that with his is quick hands, and he is able to generate turnovers for his team. In the NBA, he will need to defend top point guards on a night-to-night basis, and could really make that his calling card at the next level.
While he is a very skilled passer, Pritchard has always had the mindset of a score-first point guard, which has worked for him. However, at the next level, that won’t always come so easy. Playing with the most talented players in the world, he will need to adjust and adapt his game in order to find his role.
I can see Pritchard eventually earning solid minutes as a role player off the bench. While he undoubtedly had a tremendous Oregon career, his overall athleticism and size will be his biggest obstacle to overcome.
While the comparisons between him and Luke Ridnour can be obvious, I think a career path like Ridnour’s is a good starting point for Pritchard. If he can land with a team that needs solid depth at point guard, he can carve out a nice role and help that team win. It will all come down to how well he can space the floor and defend. If he can do those things well enough, a team will find a role for him.
We all enjoyed watching him play four seasons at Oregon, and now he will be the next Duck to take his shot in the NBA. He gave us countless memorable moments, especially this past season.
Taking over the end of the Michigan game, his game winner against Washington, his dominant performance at Arizona and so many more.
It has been a pleasure watching him, and I know we all wish him nothing but the best of luck.
Coach Alex Nordstrand
Top Photo Credit: Kevin Cline
Chris Brouilette, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a current student at the University of Oregon from Sterling, Illinois.
Alex is a lifelong Duck fan living in Eugene who goes to every Football and Basketball game that he can, and appreciates his wife for putting up with him during those seasons. Sports have always been his biggest passion, having played and coached Basketball at the High School level. He hopes to bring a unique and deeper understanding of both the Men’s and Women’s basketball teams at Oregon, and looks forward to nerding out with everyone while writing and talking Ducks!
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