NBA Draft 2020: Age isn’t the Number to Focus on for Payton Pritchard

Oregon Senior guard Payton Pritchard may be one of the best point guards production-wise in the entire draft.

He was having a career-year while leading the Ducks to a 24-7 record that earned them the No. 13 spot on the NCAA men’s basketball AP Top 25 poll. Averaging 20.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists on 46.8 percent shooting from the field and 41.5 percent from behind the arc, the 22-year-old floor general showed on a nightly basis that he was the engine that made Oregon go. 

Praised more for his competitiveness and basketball IQ rather than athleticism and physicality, Pritchard’s biggest weapon has been the off-the-dribble pull up three. 

He had eight games on the season where he hit four or more threes, including 6-of-9 shooting during a win against Arizona State… 

And 6-of-12 shooting in a 64-61 overtime win over Washington:

The comparison that most make is with former Villanova Wildcats guard Jalen Brunson who was drafted 33rd overall by the Dallas Mavericks in 2018. Pritchard similarly makes up for his limited athleticism by being a consistent playmaker for those around him. 

He puts all four other players on the court in the right position to convert on practically every possession.

This season, Brunson was averaging 8.2 points and 3.3 assists on 46.6 percent shooting from the floor. As an efficient shooter that plays with a little more tenacity and aggressiveness than Brunson, Pritchard could easily provide eight to ten points off the bench while chipping in a handful of assists. 

Pritchard has all the skill and talent necessary to have a long-lasting career as a contributing player on an NBA roster.

Although he may have a higher likelihood to contribute right away in comparison to someone like fellow Pac-12 point guard, Nico Mannion, age is Pritchard’s biggest kryptonite. 

In a league where teams primarily draft based on potential, an undersized 22-year-old senior that truly needed all four years to even get on the NBA radar is not necessarily a hot commodity.

With that, mock drafts have placed Pritchard anywhere between the bottom 20 picks of the second round and going completely undrafted. has him going 44th overall to the Portland Trailblazers who are already rich at the point guard position but would likely love to continue adding playmakers to their rotation. 

Tankathon has him even lower, going 53rd overall to the Sacramento Kings. They are a young, developing team that could use some “veteran” leadership and a guy who can give them good minutes off the bench from day one.

Despite what the experts believe about his potential, Pritchard is still relatively young and has the kind of range that tends to get guys paid hefty contracts as hired marksmen. 

Mar 7, 2020; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Oregon Ducks guard Payton Pritchard (3) shoots the ball over Stanford Cardinal guard Daejon Davis (1) during the first half at Matthew Knight Arena. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Pelicans shooting guard JJ Redick is getting $13 million a year over the next two years for typically hitting 40 percent or higher from three. Chicago Bulls forward Otto Porter received a four-year, $106 million contract from the Washington Wizards back in 2017 after shooting around 44 percent from three in back-to-back years.

Pritchard has the potential to be that kind of dead-eye shooter from the outside along with the ability to be the leader of a second unit for teams looking to shore up their bench. If he were 18 or 19 and putting up the kinds of statistics that he did this season? It is safe to say that he would be in the lottery discussion and among the top five guards taken off the board. 

So while spending a high draft pick on a veteran rookie like him isn’t necessary in today’s market, some savvy second-round team will still be happy with the sure production he can provide.