It's safe to say that Celtics nation did not love the selection of Terry Rozier.
Fans were already upset at the fact the Celtics were actually keeping and making that 16th selection. When the pick wasn't a big name - and someone most draft prognosticators had going in the second round - the displeasure only increased.
Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge told fans they would learn to love the pick, saying the guy was a hard worker, a tough player, and very quick and athletic. Those attributes are all well and good, but he is 6'1" and scouting reports surfaced saying that he didn't have a great jump shot and wasn't a pure point guard. That didn't sound great for a Celtics team that already had too many guards as it was, and whose starting backcourt consisted of a combo guard with a shaky jumper and an undersized two guard.
As the season nears, we are starting to see what Stevens and Ainge were talking about. Teammates have raved about him in practice, and he has shown flashes that he can be a contributor even as soon as this year. No one is expecting an All-Star year or spot in Springfield yet, but Rozier has done plenty to endear himself to the fans in Boston. After all, it's hard not to like a guy who readily admits his affinity for spaghetti and ranch sandwiches - or a guy who answers a question of who he would start a team with if he could pick anyone in the NBA like this:
A little brown nosing never hurt anyone.
Earning Teammates Praise
As training camp has gotten underway, teammates have marveled at Rozier's physical gifts. This past week during training camp, as Jay King on Masslive writes, newly acquired Amir Johnson was asked which rookie impressed him most. Without skipping a beat, he said, "Terry...Terry's incredibly quick and athletic. Works hard. Unbelievable player."
Tyler Zeller and David Lee agreed with Johnson, with Zeller telling the Herald's Steve Bulpett that Rozier is "extremely quick, extremely athletic" and "can push the ball very, very quickly up the floor and make things happen." Lee said, "immediately the thing you think of is speed" and that he has a "different gear."
The praise didn't stop there. Isaiah Thomas said Rozier won't back down and is willing to work. Lee added he is "absolutely tough." Thomas and Lee explained that the rookie was very willing to learn - a very important factor for veterans when dealing with rookies (looking at you KG). GodZeller said the Louisville product is a "very tough kid." Jae Crowder said, "he can play - and he has a good motor" and "he's tough."
There seem to be a few common themes. According to teammates, Rozier is certainly quick and athletic, and as tough as they come. But does that translate onto an NBA court?
Rozier would be happy to answer with an emphatic yes. Another attribute the rookie has in spades is confidence. Check out these highlights from a question and answer he did on twitter:
@OfficialNawaz GOAT— Terry Rozier (@T_Rozzay3) September 1, 2015
@willywonka_19 does an elevator goes up and down?— Terry Rozier (@T_Rozzay3) September 1, 2015
Does an elevator go up and down? Awesome. Before practice the other day, Rozier expressed to the Providence Journal's Scott Souza that he knows he is going to find minutes this coming season: "I know for sure - I'm saying this with confidence - I will find a way to get time out there on the floor...Whether it's four, three or two minutes, I know I will find my way onto the floor this season."
Rozier's supreme confidence isn't just in himself, but in the whole team. At the open practice this past Tuesday, Rozier was
asked forced to thank the crowd for coming out, and said he hoped the fans were there to cheer the Celtics on their way to a championship. Sounds good to me!
Rozier has certainly made a good impression so far in camp. He has shown off his quickness and athleticism, proven his toughness and work ethic, and displayed his confidence. Now the question is if he can put it all together to earn those minutes he is striving for.
The Celtics are loaded with guards and cracking the rotation will be difficult. Rozier's defense is NBA ready, but his offense still needs some work. He has the burst to get to the rim, but often times finds it difficult to finish when he gets there. His shooting has been a question mark as well, but for what it's worth, he did hit a couple threes in the Celtics open practice.
The best way to find your way onto the court on a Brad Stevens team is the ability to defend. Rozier has a long wingspan and those quicks and athleticism certainly come in handy on the defensive end. Phil Pressey often found playing time the past couple years for his ability to push the tempo and create havoc on the defensive end - a role Rozier could definitely fill.
At the end of the day, Rozier's best attribute is that he wants to be the best and is willing to work for it. Rozier could very well find himself some key minutes this year, but he is going to have to earn them. Hopefully he'll build on what he's started in camp and be able to help this Celtics team make another run to the playoffs.