WALTHAM, Mass. – Terry Rozier wasn’t exactly Mr. Popularity around these parts when the Boston Celtics tabbed him with the 16th overall pick in last June’s NBA draft.
Fast forward nine months and the 6-foot-2 guard’s value couldn’t be any higher to the Celtics who will once again look to him to provide a spark off of what’s becoming an injury-riddled roster.
Boston will be without Evan Turner for Wednesday night’s game against New Orleans due to a left eye injury suffered in Sunday’s 107-100 win against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Turner’s absence, much like Jae Crowder (high ankle sprain) and Avery Bradley (personal) missing games recently, has created an opportunity for Rozier to see an increased role.
And to his credit, he has made the most of chance to play more having appeared in 11 of Boston’s last 12 games while seeing at least 10 minutes per game.
“Terry’s been very good for us,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “He’s continuing to feel more comfortable day to day.”
Adding a bit to the degree of difficulty for Rozier has been the non-stop changes within the lineups he has been on the floor with.
“When Terry is playing, we usually don’t have a Jae or an Evan in the case of tomorrow,” Stevens said.
One player who sees a decent amount of time on the floor with Terry has been second-year guard Marcus Smart. Pairing them together has given the Celtics a tenacious, physical tandem defensively off the bench that has shown tremendous potential lately.
“Terry’s very aggressive, athletic,” Smart said. “He’s a feisty little guard. Plus being in the backcourt with him, the tenacity I have … us together, that’s a good fit for us.”
Especially on defense where the Celtic’s defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) with them on the floor is 94.5 which his more than six points better than the team’s overall rating (100.7) this season.
Rozier has also been particularly impressive rebounding the ball from the backcourt.
In fact, Rozier’s 10.1 rebounds per 48 minutes trails only Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (10.8) among all NBA point guards this season.
“Rebounding-wise,” Stevens said, “He adds to our team and our team needs that.”
To see Rozier rebound at a high level has not been a surprise to Stevens.
“We’ve know that since we drafted him,” Stevens said. “That was something that was talked about in the draft room and all workouts. He’s always had an elite ability to chase down balls and rebound above the rim.”
Well aware that it was a strength of his in college, Rozier is simply trying to provide help in an area that the Celtics could use a boost.
“I’m not trying to step on anybody’s toes. I’m not trying to be a hero of the team,” Rozier said recently. “I’m just trying to work my way into it. That’s part of it, just trying to be an extra body off the bench to try and help this team.”