After struggling during his rookie year, Terry Rozier has been able to find his niche with the Boston Celtics as Isaiah Thomas‘ backup.
Terry Rozier transformed himself from an eight minute per game afterthought in his rookie season into an incredibly valuable backup point guard for the Boston Celtics. After a rookie year where Rozier appeared in 34 games and averaged 1.8 points per game, Celtics fans were worried their first round pick wasn’t going to pan out. Well this season, Rozier proved those doubters wrong.
Rozier’s numbers went up across the board and as his minutes spiked, so did his efficiency, something that is not too common among young players. The Louisville product was able to come off the bench and relieve Isaiah Thomas admirably. He also thrived playing off the ball, where he spent 27 percent of his minutes this past season.
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While his per-game numbers may not jump off the page (5.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists per game) Rozier showed improvement in nearly every major statistic. His points per game rose from 1.8 to 5.5, while his Player Efficiency Rating, offensive rating and win shares all rose immensely.
Additionally, Rozier was able to raise his shooting percentages across the board and while they are still far too low, the improvement is promising. Games like the one below show that Rozier’s stroke has promise and a little more work with the Celtics staff could do him wonders.
Rozier’s defensive rebounding percentage was higher than any player 6’5″ or shorter excluding James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo. His ability to rebound the ball and then immediately take it up the court gives the Celtics a much more imposing transition game, similar to what Westbrook does with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
This is not to say that Rozier is a perfect player though. His shooting percentages will need to rise if he wants to find a permanent home in the league, and his assist percentage must also increase. For a player playing the majority of his minutes at the point, Rozier must look to involve his teammates much more.
Rozier’s role on the team next year is also a major question mark. Isaiah Thomas is going to be the starting point guard, that much is obvious, but if the Celtics do draft one of the point guards at the top of the draft, whether that’s Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, De’Aron Fox or Dennis Smith Jr., what happens to Rozier?
He does have a guaranteed contract but would the Celtics try to ship him out alongside Avery Bradley in order to have a guard rotation consisting of Thomas, their draft pick and Marcus Smart? Maybe.
Regardless of his role next year, Rozier is one of the most under-appreciated players in the league. Rozier is only headed for more improvement. While he may never become an All-Star he has the look of a high-end backup point guard.
In a story by the Providence Journal, Rozier talked about being put into last year’s playoff rotation due to Bradley’s knee injury. Additionally in the article, Rozier’s role, which has become more sporadic due to the Celtics being at full health, is defined. While he won’t play starter’s minutes in the playoffs, don’t be surprised to see Rozier come in and make an impact in the minutes he gets this postseason.