clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Celtics roster review: Terry Rozier earned a role in a crowded backcourt

New, comments

Terry Rozier improved this year, but is it enough to keep him in Boston’s plans for the future?

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Five Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Terry Rozier has dealt with a crowded backcourt in his two years in Boston. He barely played in his rookie year, but he earned a spot in the rotation this season. Like most young players, he was inconsistent, even getting benched a few times throughout the year. But Rozier rose to the occasion in the playoffs and provided a spark off the bench. He made a few notable impact plays. He did his best Larry Bird impression by stealing an inbounds pass and sank a clutch three against the Wizards in game 2, among other noticeable efforts. Plays like these gave a glimpse at why Danny Ainge wouldn’t include him in the rumored Serge Ibaka deal.

Rozier’s ability to impact the game on defense stands out. He has a huge wingspan and great quickness, a perfect combination to harass opposing ball-handlers. He’s not an Avery Bradley-level on-ball defender right now (even if the advanced numbers are really spotty on AB). But Rozier is showing some real potential on that end. His metrics actually compare pretty favorably to Bradley. (stats from basketball-reference and ESPN)

Rozier’s biggest area for improvement is on the offensive end. At this stage in his career, he’s not a great playmaker. He doesn’t look totally comfortable running the pick and roll, and he isn’t an elite passer. That skill will hopefully come with more playing time and experience. Obviously improving his three-point shooting would be a positive as well. His performance in the playoffs is a good sign, even accounting for the small sample size. But the regular season was rough.

As his shot chart illustrates, the most important area for Rozier is finishing at the rim. He’s too athletic to only convert 46% of his attempts from there. The good news is that he’s actually getting to the rim. He’s quick and handles the ball well, so he’s able to beat defenders and get into the paint. The trouble comes actually making the shots.

Rozier has some flash to his game, which is great when it works. He’s not afraid to unleash some inspired dribble moves. But he also attempts these acrobatic layups, contorting his body in the air and switching hands. Take this play for example.

I have to imagine that a different approach at the rim would help him out. I’d love to see him just dunk the ball, or at least attempt less ambitious layups. It's one thing for Isaiah Thomas to utilize these acrobatics because his height necessitates it. But Rozier has the hops and size to be more assertive at the rim.

This would really help his play in transition too. Rozier has been mediocre throughout his career so far. He has the ability to grab a rebound (or steal a pass) and go coast to coast. His scoring struggles are limiting the impact of his explosiveness on the court.

Rozier is left in an awkward position right now. The Celtic backcourt is going to be even more crowded next year if no trades are made. He may start the season as the fifth guard in the rotation. But his performance in the playoffs and his athletic potential make him an interesting trade piece. Considering that he has three inexpensive years left on his deal, Rozier could end up as a replacement if another Celtic gets traded. The situation may just depend on how much he’s able to improve his game this summer.