Five reasons why Terry Rozier should be in the Celtics rotation
BOSTON – NBA jobs aren’t won and lost during summer league, but it’s fair to say that Terry Rozier could not have positioned himself much better than he has to be a regular in the team’s rotation next season.
Now that Evan Turner is gone via a four-year, $70 million contract with Portland, there’s no question the Celtics are indeed in the market for another playmaker. Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, has made it known that along with adding a more imposing center, he also has an eye out for another facilitator, too.
If he does in fact look to fill that void from within, Rozier has given him plenty of reasons besides being a warm body under contract, to select him.
Here are five reasons why Rozier should be in the Celtics’ regular rotation next season.
Brad Stevens’ teams have shown improvement defensively since he took over three years ago, with most of the team’s success at that end of the floor stemming from the Celtics’ guard play. Rozier is very much cut from the same suffocating, defensive-minded cloth of Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley, who was named to the NBA’s all-Defensive First Team this past season. Having him come off the bench, knowing he has the potential to pick up defensively full-court and still be effective offensively, is indeed a luxury Boston would be wise to take advantage of this season
One of the best parts about summer league is that for players who want to attack the paint, you do so knowing you’re going to get hit and in most instances, not get a call. Countless times we have seen Rozier drive into the lane, draw contact and score but not get the call. The fact that he keeps taking hits and bouncing back from them quickly, bodes well for his chances to do similar things during the regular season. And he’s the first to praise his teammates when the Celtics win, and bear the brunt of responsibility when they fall short. There’s a lot to like about Rozier and his mental toughness, for sure.
3. Continued improvement as a shooter
Rozier was a scorer coming into the NBA, and this summer has been one in which we’ve seen that side of him sustained for greater periods of time. There were few opportunities for Rozier last season to impact the game with his shot-making ability, but that seemed to change once the playoffs rolled around. We saw his scoring average in the postseason more than double to 4.8 points per game compared to just 1.8 during the regular season. There was a noticeable uptick in his shooting as well, going from 27.4 percent from the field and 22.2 percent on 3s during the regular season, to 39.1 percent and 36.4, respectively. This summer he has picked up where he left off. In four summer league games (three in Salt Lake City and one in Las Vegas), Rozier has averaged 17.5 points, 6 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting 49.0 percent from the field. Within those numbers, Rozier has averaged 19.5 points in his last two games while shooting 56 percent from the field.
2. Ball-handling, playmaking skills
This may be the most important skill he brings to the floor this season. It can’t be overstated just how valuable Evan Turner was to this team when it came to handling the basketball, particularly in the fourth quarter of close games. With Rozier gaining some much-needed confidence in this area bodes well for him and the Celtics. Ball-handling involves more than simply getting the ball past half court in less than eight seconds. There’s a need to recognize what the defense is doing, how to counter that and more than anything else, make sure players are getting to the spots they need to. Rozier looks a lot more comfortable in this particular role now, and he attributes it to just being a smarter player.
1. Youth Movement
The Celtics have been adding lots of young pieces to the roster under Brad Stevens, with most spending the bulk of their time on the Celtics bench or with the team’s D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. This is the first real crack Rozier will have at playing time, and he seems more than ready for it. He has played with a level of control and focus throughout the summer that has given the assistant coaches a lot of confidence in his game going forward. Of course the Celtics will continue to scour the free agency wire looking for a talented guard that can help them continue going forward. But the smart bet right now is on Rozier being the team’s backup point guard. He has shown the kind of growth you want to see from Year 1 to the next, and should be rewarded for that with a spot in the team’s regular rotation.
A. Sherrod Blakely can be followed on Twitter: @SherrodbCSN