The Trail Blazers’ 2019-20 season is firmly in the rearview mirror and 2020 NBA Draft is now on the horizon. As of now, the draft is scheduled for November 18. Unlike last year, the Blazers enter the process with two picks at their disposal. Portland currently owns the No. 16 pick in the first round and the No. 46 pick in the second round.
Today’s profile looks at Oregon Ducks All-American point guard Payton Pritchard. The four-year college starter and West Linn native is a solid second round prospect as a potential floor general off the bench.
- Height: 6’2”
- Weight: 205
- Wingspan: 6’4”
- Shoots: Right
- Position: PG
- Age: 22
- Projected draft range: 40-55
- PTS: 20.5 | Per 40: 22.4
- REB: 4.3 | Per 40: 4.7
- AST: 5.5 | Per 40: 6.1
- STL: 1.5 | Per 40: 1.7
- FG%: 46.8
- 3P%: 41.5
- FT%: 82.1
Pritchard is a crafty, polished veteran with a deluge of experience in big-time games. He’s an excellent playmaker who directed an Oregon offense through one of their greatest stretches in school history, playing alongside NBA talent like Dillon Brooks, Jordan Bell, Chris Boucher and Troy Brown Jr. Defensively, he’s got good hands and a stout frame that help him make the most of his limited athleticism.
In addition to traditional point guard skills like ball handling, passing and floor vision, Pritchard possesses an ability to score on his own. His proficiency increased throughout his collegiate career, culminating in a record-setting senior season in which he averaged 20 points per game. Perhaps the aspect that will best translate to the next level is his three-point shooting—which greatly improved from his junior (33%) to senior (42%) year, as he was tasked with a much larger scoring load.
His range also improved exponentially, as he regularly connected from far beyond even NBA range during the 2019-20 season. At 6’2”, this will help him against much taller defenders at the next level.
For an example, check out this ridiculous game-winner to complete a comeback over the Washington Huskies in January:
Pritchard’s biggest weakness is unquestionably his lack of athleticism. While he dominated the college game, play is much faster at the NBA level—as are the players. He will likely have a much tougher time getting to the rim, and especially finishing against the bigger and stronger defenders the NBA has to offer. On top of that, should he draw a foul, his free-throw percentage is a tick low—particularly for such a solid outside shooter.
He’s strong enough to hold his own on defense, but his lack of lateral quickness and virtually nonexistent wingspan will make for difficult matchups against quicker and longer guards. Unfortunately, as this is something he’s largely unable to control, there’s probably not a whole lot of room for improvement. In general, he has likely met his ceiling.
Pritchard led a depleted Ducks team to a Pac-12 regular season championship (the conference tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and took home a laundry list of end-of-season honors, including first team All-American, Pac-12 Player of the Year and the Bob Cousy Awards—presented to the nation’s best point guard. He became Oregon’s all-time assists leader in late January, and finished his career as the fourth leading scorer in Ducks basketball history.
Pritchard projects as a prototypical backup point guard. His added range from distance helps make up for his athletic limitations. His ample experience should have him ready to contribute right away, albeit in a much smaller role than the one he was accustomed to in college—particularly last season. His early Oregon career, in which he was surrounded by talent and served more as a facilitator, will ease the transition to the NBA.
As someone who will likely still be on the board when the Blazers pick in the second round, Pritchard would appear to be a solid fit, as Portland lacks a clear backup point guard for Damian Lillard. Dame averaged 37.5 minutes last season, the most since his rookie year. Anfernee Simons showed glimpses of playmaking ability this year, but is still a score-first guard, and wasn’t someone the Blazers could count on with any kind of consistency in a regular role.