In the past few weeks, everybody in Celtics nation has been talking about R.J. Hunter, and rightly so. Hunter's play has sparked conversations between hoop heads about whether or not he has a chance to crack the rotation and play some meaningful minutes.
But lets not forget about Terry Rozier. The C's 2015 first-round pick has continued to show that he has not only the skill, but the competitive nature and intensity to stick in the league. Coming off of a 16 point, six assist, four rebound, four steal night against the Brooklyn Nets, Rozier reminded the Celtics fan base that he should not be overlooked.
He cranked the tempo after stops and helped direct a Boston offense that shot 51.3 percent overall and 40 percent beyond the 3-point arc.
When the Nets pulled within a bucket with seven minutes to play in the final frame, Rozier kicked it into overdrive. Catching a rebound in the paint, he broke out the other way and fed fellow first-round pick R.J. Hunter for an easy layup. The next two trips down the floor, Rozier found 2014 first-round pick James Young for a pair of 3-pointers that pushed Boston's lead to 10 and locked down the win.
If the Louisville product wants to carve out more of a role for himself in the rotation this season, he is going to have to turn in more performances like the one against the Nets. He will have to clean up his shooting percentage, especially when it comes to finishing at the rim, but this type of all-around game will keep Rozier in the conversation for minutes.
One thing that stood out aside from stuffing the stat sheet was the intensity that Rozier showed. After missing two games and a week of practice last week with left knee swelling, Rozier played with a passion and determination seen in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Playing a team-high 28 minutes, even Stevens could tell how badly Rozier wanted to be on the floor:
Brad Stevens on Rozier: "I thought Terry could have gone another 20 minutes, probably. He just kind of had that look about him."
One of the biggest surprises so far in the three preseason games that Rozier has played has been his three-point shooting. He has connected on 6-8 from downtown and has shown that he can become a threat from beyond the arc. Consistency could prove to be a problem with more minutes, but the early returns are promising. Not to mention that Rozier holds himself accountable for every missed shot and always wants to improve his game.
Offensively, Rozier went 3-for-3 from beyond the 3-point arc, but he missed 6 of 7 shots inside of it, including some layups at the rim that left him frustrated.
"I don’t care if I was playing with fourth-graders, if I’m missing shots I’m going to get kinda mad at myself," said Rozier. "Not too mad with taking me out of my game, but -- I don’t know, I get through it and I'll work on it."
While all the rookies have shown glimpses of promising play throughout the summer league and the five preseason games, Rozier continues to prove that he has the skill set to succeed as a change-of-pace guard that can score, assist and defend his position.
Photo Credit: Brian Babineau/NBAE
Follow Connor Casey on Twitter @Connor_Casey5