By Shaun Whalen
In truth, In Danny We Trust. BUT, Terry Rozier’s explosion onto the national scene during the first two games of the NBA playoffs is only one more piece of evidence of Danny Ainge’s (and Brad Stevens’) wizardy and witchcraft that other teams simply have not prayed to yet.
Drafted in 2015 , Rozier was a relative unknown to the national audience, selected by Ainge before nationally hyped products Tyus Jones (Duke), Sam Dekker (Wisconsin), and Jerian Grant (Notre Dame). This draft also doubles as the one in which a reported deal shows the Charlotte Hornets turning down a veritable treasure trove of assets from the Celtics to draft Frank Kaminsky (the Celtics were targeting Justice Winslow)—even geniuses need a little bit of help and luck, I guess.
With injuries throughout the season shaking the rotation, Rozier’s minutes ebbed and flowed with his time peaking around 33 minutes per game during Kyrie’s late-season surgery. For the whole season—per 36 minutes—Rozier averaged 15.7 pts, 6.5 rebounds, and 4 asts on 39 % FG (38 % 3PFG). These numbers are respectable (if not impressive for a 6’2” PG) for any young player working through the ways and means of an NBA season.
His recent two game explosion has come as a result of any numerous circumstances, the least of which has left the Celtics being viewed as one of the foremost underdog two seeds in recent history. With no Kyrie, Hayward, and Marcus Smart a distant thought, the Celtics began the series with 92 games playoff starting experience combined: Aron Baynes had started one and Al Horford represented the rest. Rozier (with the Flying Jays in tow) has soared to new heights in his short stint in the limelight.
Rozier, a mere 23, had led the way averaging 21.2 pts, 3.2 rebs, and 5.1 asts on 46 % FG (50 % 3PFG!) per 36 minutes. With a massive 6’8” wingspan, Rozier has (somehow) still eluded Eric Bledsoe’s contacts list, but has made his way onto the national stage. While there will be a regression to the mean during the series (seriously, 50 % on almost seven attempts a game is untenable), Rozier has shown himself to be a baller with no small amount of swagger. As this series (and the next) continue, Scary Terry will look to establish himself as far more than a backup leading to any number of more difficult decision to be made by our faithful GM and Coach.
With a 1-10 next year that consists of Kyrie, Gordon, Jaylen, Jayson, Al, Marcus, Terry, Mook, Theis, and Baynes/Monroe/Larkin/Yabusele/Semi, Danny has set the Celtics up for success, but also for some difficult decisions. It is dangerous to look ahead in the NBA, but the next few years will only stretch Danny and Brad to make more and more difficult decisions while handling the growing egos of young men wanting to springboard into stardom (and wealth).
Here’s to enjoying the Scary moments while we can. In Danny (and Terry—for the moment) We Trust.