Before preseason started for Boston, most of the talk was focused on Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, and their stash of draft picks. Even Marcus Smart received some publicity after revealing his 20-pound weight loss during the offseason. With all the marquee news surrounding the Celtics, the development of third-year guard Terry Rozier rarely became a topic of discussion.
Boston has a roster full of big names and interesting storylines, and Rozier’s rise as the Celtics’ premier backup point guard. It’s only been the preseason, but Rozier has already shown flashes of what he can do.
In Boston’s four preseason games, Rozier is averaging 10.5 points, four rebounds, and three assists. When he is on the court, his team outscores opponents by an average of 4.5 points.
Rozier has hit double figures in two of the four games, including a 15-point, 10-rebound, six-assist performance against the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night. His defense has also tightened up. When he’s on the court, opponents register a defensive rating of 84.2 points per 100 possession. In an interview with Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, Rozier was candid on the work he put in this offseason.
“I never really played defense in high school, and at this level, if you don’t, you get exposed,” he said. “So I learned a lot of stuff from Avery [Bradley]. I learned a lot of stuff from Jae Crowder. And we lost both of them. So I know I have to step up on the defensive end now.”
Unlike last season, Rozier will take on a more defined role as the off-the-bench spark that most teams would kill for. Rozier’s 6’8” wingspan and 38-inch max vertical jump complements his speed and versatility as a young guard. Rozier’s frame and physical attributes both give him the opportunity to be an effective scorer, facilitator, and defender.
Much like fellow guard Marcus Smart, Rozier will be competing for minutes as the second-unit point guard threat for much of the regular season. Smart will likely see most of the minutes to start being that he can control his fast pace much better than Rozier. Yet, that will not force him to shy away from tough defensive assignments like Irving and Isaiah Thomas.
“I love the challenge,” Rozier said. “That’s two of the toughest guards I ever had to guard in my life, and it’s only going to make me better. I love the challenge every day, to wake up and guard guys like that.”
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