Of course Darko Milicic crashes Jason Terry Day here at CelticsBlog. Seems poetic, right?
"Hey, today we're going to talk about how versatile the Jet is and what how much of a punch he can add to our bench scoring. Oh, wait. What's that on Twitter? Darko Milicic if flying back to the States and negotiating a contract with the Boston Celtics? Put the balloons away, guys. This is happening."
It's ironic really. On the day Danny Ainge bring in 27-year-old 7 footer whose biggest claim to fame is that he hasn't done enough in his nine year career and been labeled a bust, we're talking about a player in The Jet who's known around the league as one of the best all-around bench scorers in the NBA. But not even Darko's underwhelming arrival in Boston can mess with Jason Terry's mojo and I'm not sure Doc should either.
Rajon Rondo is clearly the point guard of the team. He relishes the responsibility of being the Celtics' quarterback and he's the best translator of Doc's vision on the court. They speak this binary code of X's and O's that only they can fully understand and although Rondo may be Doc's best playcaller, Jason Terry will be one of his best playmakers. When an offensive set gets short circuited and the shot clock winds down, Doc and Rondo's best option might be to just get the ball to JT.
Consider what Jason Terry did in his swan song season with the Mavericks . By the end of the year, Celtic favorite Delonte West was starting in the back court with Jason Kidd. Midway through the first quarter, Terry would spell West and play the off-guard with Kidd. Later, West would come in for Kidd and Terry would become the primary ball handler. It's that kind of versatility that made him the NBA Sixth Man Of The Year in 2009. He'll probably play a similar role in Boston; whether it's Avery Bradley or Courtney Lee starting, Terry will be the first guard off the bench, play opposite Rondo and off the ball, and later fill in as the de facto "PG" when Rondo's on the bench.
According to SynergySports, over a quarter of the plays that Dallas ran for JT featured him as the ball handler in a pick & roll. He shot a very respectable 45.4% in those situations. Another quarter of the plays had Terry patrolling the perimeter as a spot up shooter. There, he shot 44.9% and 44.4% from behind the arc. By comparison, those spot up numbers are just a shade under the man he'll be compared to most of the season in Ray Allen. The biggest difference between JT and Ray is again, the matter of versatility. The majority of Ray's looks came off screens (35.7%) and he rarely handled the ball in PnR's (11.1%). Terry may not be the shooter that Ray is, but he'll be able hurt teams from more spots on the floor.
Here are some more numbers to chew on: 82games.com compiled clutch numbers for last season, defining "clutch" as "4th quarter or overtime, less than 5 minutes left, neither team ahead by more than 5 points." There are some familiar names on the list like Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul. Our captain, Paul Pierce, finished just inside the top ten 37.5 points per 48 minutes of crunch time. Three spots behind him and right behind Kobe Bryant is Jason Terry at 34.3.
Doc has to loosen the reigns a little bit and let Jason Terry be Jason Terry. This isn't Stephon Marbury or Nate Robinson we're talking about here. The Celtics offense is known to be very regimented where execution is key. A missed screen here or there could be disastrous. I just hope that Terry doesn't become some sort of safety blanket where if a play breaks down, they throw him the ball with the shot clock winding down and rely on him to come up with something on the fly. In Dallas, he flourished in the Mavericks' flow offense, where he could freelance regularly in a spaced out court, but even Carlisle had to pull back from his set-heavy philosophy. It's like adding jazz guitar to a Beach Boys' song. There's going to be a fine line between him getting his touches and running the standard elbow plays and down screen curls we've grown accustomed to. It'll be curious to see what Doc does, but these are rich man's problems. JT is such a proven commodity on the court and is proving to be one off the court as well.
Training camp hasn't even started yet and he's already picked up the torch as one of the veteran leaders. Check out this video he made with Reebok when he arrived in Boston this summer. In it, he talks about joining forces with Kevin Garnett as the emotional core of the team:
Putting those two forces together and then going into the Boston Garden in front of those great fans, it's going to be incredible.
Jason Terry lands in Boston for his first season with The Celtics (via reebok)
He's been talking the talk and walking the walk, too. He's already started working out with some of the younger players at the Waltham training facility and developed a mentor/student relationship with Dionte Christmas. Terry's one of those players that you don't have to worry about because he does all the worrying for you. In that interview with Jessica Camerato, Christmas recalled, "he told me at Reebok, ‘Every time I see you slacking, I'm just going to look at you and tell you you're not going back,' meaning I'm not going back overseas. I said, ‘I hope you're right.' So every time I looked at him, he'd just give me a look or he keeps telling me I'm going hard. It's just a confidence booster in itself, him being in the gym, his presence."
Maybe it's fitting that the Darko Milicic news dropped today. His agent mentioned that his decision to join the Celtics was swayed by his respect for the organization and Doc Rivers. Doc's definitely cultivated a culture in Boston where players looking to fulfill their dreams (Christmas) or re-establish their careers (Milicic) can have a fair shot at finding a role with the team. Although he's one of the newest Celtics, it's clearly a valued shared by Jason Terry as well.