Boston Celtics: The Terry Rozier problem

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Boston Celtics back-up point guard Terry Rozier entered this season with sky-high aspirations after an incredible postseason run as the lead guard for a team one win from the Finals. Now, a sobering season has sent the fourth year pro crashing back to earth.

The only people who have found Boston Celtics‘ “Scary” Terry Rozier terrifying has been Celtics fans since the 2018-19 season has been underway.

In a contract year, Rozier has just flat struggled to replicate his phenomenal play from the latter half of the 2017-18 season and playoffs, putting up a season filled with shot-chucking and overall inefficient play.

While the Boston Celtics assumed that they would have one of, if not the best, backup point guards going into this season, Rozier’s play has actually caused the depth at that position to be a weak spot for the team. Where the point guard’s primary role is to distribute the ball and keep the offense a well-oiled machine, the ceiling of the team seems to plummet when Rozier is on the court.

The last 4 games Rozier has played in have been yet another awful stretch for the Celtics guard, averaging just 7 points per game (1.9 points fewer then his season average), 2.5 assists per game (0.6 fewer then his season average) and, in that span, his highest plus-minus posted was Feb. 12’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers were he lodged a -1.

While this has been a frustrating stretch for Rozier and, in turn, everyone else pulling for the  Celtics, it really has not deviated too far from what he has consistently been doing all season.

After spending his first 3 seasons in the league scratching and clawing just to stay on the Celtics roster, Rozier has averaged 2.4 points per game less than his previous season high, 2017-18’s 11.3. After proving his need for a larger role after the postseason, he has barely moved the needle in assists, despite earning more minutes and time with the ball in his hands while being surrounded with higher levels of talent on the second unit.

There are some struggles Rozier has had that could potentially be explained away due to forces out of Scary Terry’s control. A duo that has seemed to work in the past, Rozier’s new backup backcourt buddy, Jaylen Brown, does not have the skill set to complement Rozier’s game the same way Marcus Smart used too.

Brown, like Rozier, is best defensively when on-ball and thrives in offensive situations where he can attack the rim and spot up from 3. Smart’s game is perfectly suited to balance out Rozier’s: works well as an off-ball defender, can initiate plays and create for the offense and, at least most of the time, would generally defer shooting to a teammate.

In theory, Gordon Hayward should be this x10, though a slow return from injury has limited the kind of impact he can have. While Rozier has played the majority of minutes with Hayward, the two do not seem to have built a rapport with each other and instead take turns controlling the offense, to varying degrees of success.

Also, a decent amount of blame for Rozier’s rough season has to go to head coach Brad Stevens. 60 games deep, Rozier is still playing heavy rotation minutes even though he has consistently, across the board underperformed for the Celtics. Stevens allows Rozier to run the teams second unit offense and refuses to yank him when he continually shoots Boston out of a game.

While there are a lot of factors that play into just why Terry Rozier has been less than frightening for opposing teams this season, the fact is, he just has not been good. His stats have been underwhelming, he’s been defensively frustrating and continually seems to be a huge momentum killer for the Boston Celtics.

The team may already have better options on the roster; Brad Wanamaker has shown that he can be dependable and has the size and shooting ability to fit in well with the Celtics lineups.

Semi Ojeleye has proven since Boston drafted him that he is capable of taking on any defensive assignment, and has been developing a functional long-range shot that will make him a productive player for years to come.

These would require further tweaks to make the lineups work, but Boston has the personnel to make these changes feasible.

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There is no denying that Rozier can play, and last years postseason more than likely bought him at least a few more years in the league. He just simply has not been beneficial for Boston this season, and the team will be better off in the future without him running the second unit.