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Terry Rozier and the Art of the Steal

Rozier showing promise on the defensive end.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics fans weren't exactly overjoyed when Terry Rozier was selected with the 16th pick in the 2015 draft. He was considered a bit of reach, and playing a position of surplus as well. But he's been showing flashes of the potential that Danny Ainge saw in him. Rozier has earned a spot on the active roster to start the season. He's been making plays in the preseason, especially on the defensive end. His most obvious skill so far has been forcing turnovers.

Rozier has a natural ability to generate steals. He showed it at Louisville, where he averaged 2 per game in his final season. It's easy to see why when you watch him. Rozier has the exceptional quickness necessary to jump into passing lanes and come away with the ball. His length is great too. He's only 6'2", but his wingspan is over 6'8". That's just an inch short of Rajon Rondo's freakish wingspan. Rozier's long arms give him a better chance to make contact with the ball.

Take this play for instance. He recognizes the pass is coming, and lunges into the passing lane. In a matter of seconds, he's stolen the ball and leading the fast break.

rozier 1

You can see Rozier's head darting between his man and the ball too. This, hopefully, is a sign that he's not just watching the ball and gambling on a pass coming.

Still against Brooklyn, Rozier pockets another one here. Rozier is able to stop on dime and changes direction to snag the ball. He looks almost like an NFL defensive back breaking on the ball.


Rozier made these opportunistic plays at Louisville too. This vine shows why you shouldn't throw lazy passes around him.

Stealing the ball is nice, but there's more to it than that. After gaining possession, he's not content to hold the ball and wait for the rest of the team. He charges forward on a one-man fast break. Rozier has incredible confidence in his abilities. Look at this insane dunk attempt. He misses it, but the attempt itself is still worth appreciating.

It's too much to expect Rozier's perimeter defense to be on the level of Marcus Smart or Avery Bradley. Even he admitshe needs to improve on that area. But he should be able to provide a spark coming off the bench. Rozier could be a real playmaker on defense for a bench unit.

Some of this should be taken with a grain of salt because of the substandard competition. Not to mention he's bound to get get burned on a play or two gunning for the steal. But the skills he's shown should translate against real NBA talent. His quickness and anticipation for passes is real, it's just a matter of time before he's hounding NBA players on a regular basis.

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