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The Terry Rozier journey

What does Rozier’s past tell us about his future?

Indiana Pacers v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Just like when the Celtics selected Jaylen Brown during this year’s draft, most fans groaned when Boston drafted Terry Rozier at No. 16 in 2015. Point guard wasn't a position of need, and who the hell is Terry Rozier anyway?! Throughout his first year, Rozier showed a few flashes but still had much to prove in his quest to becoming an everyday contributor. To understand where Rozier has come and where we should expect him, I broke down his progression into five parts.

  1. Regular Season

8.0 mpg, 1.8ppg, 1.6rpg, .9apg, 22.2 3P%, 27.4 FG%

Rozier had the type of regular season that you'd expect from a mid-round pick who plays a surplus position. He played sparingly and either played as a glue guy alongside Marcus Smart and Evan Turner or in garbage-time lineups. He did have a few nice games—like his 6-point, 7-rebound, 3-assist game against the Lakers, and a 7-point, 5-rebound game against the Raptorsbut he never had a consistent opportunity to do much. One skill that seemed to jump out was his ability to rebound. Though he didn’t qualify, Rozier’s rebounding rate of 10.8% would have been second behind Russell Westbrook amongst point guards. However, his biggest sign of growth may have been the last month of the season, where he played ten or more minutes in 12 of the 19 games. In terms of production, the numbers just weren’t there during his NBA minutes, but Rozier showed a lot more in his trips down to Maine.

2. Maine Red Claws

33.7mpg, 19.4ppg, 6.4rpg, 8.0apg 33.8 3P%, 39.3 FG%

In the D-League, Rozier showed the type of promise that you would hope for. He used an inflated usage to become a triple-double threat, and he shot a decent percentage from three on 5.3 attempts per game. Rozier demonstrated his athleticism in transition, and he put together some really great finishes that should transfer nicely to the NBA game. One area where you could really tell he wanted to work on was how he handed the pick-and-roll, and he demonstrated on-court chemistry with Jordan Mickey. Because Rozier is so quick, he won’t always need a screen. However, being able to use the screen at the next level is one of the easiest ways to make plays for teammates, and he could become an absolute nightmare if he ever gets it down.

3. Playoffs

19.8mpg, 4.8ppg,3.4rpg, 1.2apg 36.4 3P%, 39.1 FG%

A testament to his hard work—and due the injury of Avery Bradley—Rozier actually played some solid minutes in the playoffs. On the floor as more of a placeholder while the regular rotation guys rested, Rozier did a good job for the most part in just holding his own. Some of his best offensive games came during the team’s worst losses, but for the most part he came in and provided stable defense. Just like his regular season, those performances left fans feeling lukewarm about Rozier’s potential. On one hand, you saw the potential and promise he has, but on the other hand, you saw the tentativeness and overlapping similarities to some of the other guards on the team. But the two things that continued to make him stand out were his breathtaking athleticism and his rebounding ability.

4. 2016 Summer League

29.2mpg, 20.0ppg, 5.3rpg, 3.5apg, 45.2 3P%, 54.2 FG%

The Celtics staff handed the keys of the Summer League team to Rozier, and he did not disappoint. The athleticism and rebounding ability were still there. However, his patience and understanding of when to attack were on a different level. Rozier looked very comfortable running the point-guard position, and he was the best player every time he was on the court. He took smart shots, finished at the rim, and ran a really good offense despite having a team full of non-NBA guys. His performance was so good that when Chris Frosberg of ESPN asked Danny Ainge about summer league guys who could make the rotation this year, he said this:

The implications were clear. Rozier has an opening in the rotation, and it’s absolutely his spot to lose.

5. What should we expect?

When it comes to predicting what Rozier can be this upcoming season, it’s important to keep three things in mind. One, what will his role be? Two, does he have the translatable skills to excel in that role? Three, is there anyone else on the roster who could play the role better?

Rozier will most likely play the role of combo guard, sharing point-guard duties with Marcus Smart. The role will require him to play both on- and off-ball, so the ability to shoot, move without the basketball, and run the offense in spurts will be needed. Up to this point Rozier’s average three-point percentage including his regular season, D-league, playoff, and summer league numbers is 34.4%, which is just slightly under league average. Though he hasn’t been asked to do much as an off-ball cutter, his potential in the dribble hand-off could be key in helping collapse the defense for others and creating for himself. Defense shouldn’t be a problem either—despite being listed at just 6’0”, Rozier sports a ridiculous 6’9” wingspan and superb lateral movement that allows him to defend either guard spot, like a smaller Avery Bradley.

The next closet guy on the roster who could compete for the spot is R.J. Hunter, but he’s nowhere near Rozier as a defender, creator, or rebounder. Moreover, up to this point Hunter hasn’t proven that he’s a much better shooter. So unless some surprise Celtic comes out of nowhere, expect Rozier to get around 15-20 minutes a night and provide some of the stat-filling he did in the D-League with lower numbers and usage.