Cup of Joe: Next Man Up?

Mailin' It In w/ Brenton Bauerle

MattDotRich: Brenton, I'm going to guess you knew the question that was coming here; Marcus Smarts out for at least 2 weeks, who needs to step up?

Brenton Bauerle: Well Matt, I think people have really under appreciated Smart's impact thus far, especially on defense, and that makes this such a tough question. Smart may really be irreplaceable -- he has played at an all-defense level, and even Bradley can't switch 1-4 the way Smart can.

Having said that, I thought it was interesting that Stevens said one of the young guys would get some of Smart's minutes based on matchups, and with that in mind I think Terry Rozier has to find a way to parlay his elite quickness into the role Bradley used to fill; defensive ace who hounds the opposing point guard full court and stops the offense from finding its rhythm.

MDR: Right, I thought the comments were interesting too - especially when last night he seemed to turn to an increase in minutes for Evan Turner, who isn't old by any means, but he's also decidedly not young. But if I was a betting man, and this certainly won't be a crowd-pleaser, I kind of get the feeling that he's going to be Brad's guy; I think they're going to need Turner's playmaking.

Let me ask you this, though; Someone else is going to get a bump as welll - Why do you think that person is Terry Rozier and not RJ Hunter?

BB: I'm not necessarily saying it will be Rozier rather than Hunter, just that he is more capable of providing a facsimile of what Smart brings to the table. Hunter got some minutes last night, and got plenty while Bradley was out as well. I just think with the Celtics making a name on D, Rozier fills a need.

Side note: When Turner airballed yet another contested mid range jumper the other day, I spent a good fifteen minutes editing his player in NBA 2k16 until he was 5"2' and incapable of dribbling a basketball. I felt that was a just punishment.

MDR: So... basically this?

This might be the argument FOR Rozier, but I guess I just don't know how capable he is offensively. Defensively, I agree - he's another guy who could frustrate offensive players and make things happen, albeit in a very different way than Marcus, but I question if he can do enough offensively to stay on the court at this point. I know he had a pretty solid outing this week in Maine

I still feel like Hunter's the guy, though. I think he's just more polished - He's been a surprisingly good defender, sees the floor well, and he can shoot. Or, at least we think he can shoot - His last season he finished just north of .300 from distance (on over 7 attempts a game) and this season he's only shot .250. Brenton, should we be concerned about RJ's sniping abilities?

BB: Anytime I think about RJ and his shooting, I go back to Brandon Bass.

I know that sounds strange, but hear me out. Bass was an elite mid range shooter, and I always assumed that it was just stubbornness that stopped him from stepping back a few feet, and that he would at least be an average three point shooter if he ever tried his hand at if. But we saw last year that just wasn't the case. We often forget this, but shooting is a finely tuned athletic movement that requires hundreds of hours to perfect, and even slight changes in distance or angle can cause huge shifts in percentage.

RJ has shot the college three for the past three years, and even then he had to adjust to being double teamed on a talent-starved Georgia State team. Stepping back even a few feet is a big change, and it may take a while for RJ to become consistent. Having said that, the stroke is so pure and quick that I think he will be a well above-average shooter. It will just take time.

MDR: Does that come this year though?

BB: It very well could. It's not an exact science. All I know is that once it clicks, we will see a lot more consistency behind the arc.

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