It didn’t take long for Payton Pritchard to become a fan-favorite in Boston.
The No. 26 overall pick out of Oregon in this year’s NBA draft has quickly carved out a role in the Celtics rotation with All-Star point guard Kemba Walker recovering from a stem-cell injection in his left knee.
During Walker’s absence, the rookie has averaged 6.8 points, 1.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and drawn comparisons to Steph Curry himself. Jaylen Brown believes the 22-year-old is deserving of some high praise.
"Payton is the G.O.A.T, man," Brown said after Pritchard’s fourth NBA game in which he notched 10 points, five rebounds and five assists off the bench.
"Payton came in with the confidence. Definitely needed a spark coming off the bench, and Payton was everything and more for us tonight. We're going to need more guys to continue to step up, but excellent job from Payton Pritchard, man. The kid can play, and we're looking forward to him and other guys stepping up as well in the future."
Brown isn’t the only Celtics teammate to give Pritchard a buzz-worthy nickname. His teammate, Jayson Tatum, gave him the nickname “8 Mile,” a reference to his uncanny resemblance to the movie’s main character B-Rabbit, played by rapper Eminem.
On NBCS Boston’s pregame show, Kendrick Perkins explained why he calls Pritchard another 8-mile-esque nickname, P-Rabbit. In a Facetime call with Celtics center Tristan Thompson, Thompson said he’s “rolling with it.”
Whether you call him 8-mile, P-Rabbit, Dean Pritchard or the throwback Fast PP, Pritchard has proven he’s got what it takes to shine at the pro level.
And honestly, this isn’t a surprise to Duck fans who have watched Pritchard take home Pac-12 Player of the Year, first-team All-Pac-12, and consensus first-team All-American honors throughout his four-year career at Oregon.
The "Lose Yourself" lyrics have never been more fitting for Pritchard, who is making the most of his early opportunity with the Celtics.
"You own it, you better never let it go / You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow / This opportunity comes once in a lifetime."