They said he was a waste of a draft pick. They said he’d never do anything of note in the NBA. They said he’d likely be relegated to a career overseas or in the D-League.
They don’t say much anymore these days. Terry Rozier proves them wrong on a nightly basis.
CBS Sports had a particularly damning review when Rozier was selected No. 16 overall by the Celtics in the 2015 NBA Draft.
Celtics select Terry Rozier: No. 16. Grade: F
No. Fail. Go away.
— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) June 26, 2015
It’s safe to say that tweet has not aged well as Rozier is the most underrated player in the NBA today.
Sunday night, Rozier led the Celtics to a 104-93 win over the Sacramento Kings. His jump-shot was unerring as he went 8/12 from the three-point line and scored a career high 33 points. He also chipped in 5 assists and 5 rebounds, showing clearly that he was the best player on the court. In last night’s win in Phoenix, he contributed 16 points with 7 rebounds.
Rozier has had a tremendous season, but his accomplishments have been overshadowed in what has been a crazy campaign for the Celtics. Isaiah Thomas was traded for Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward suffered a horrendous injury in the opening moments of the season, and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are blossoming into stars right before our eyes. It makes sense that Terry’s abilities have been a bit overlooked, but that needs to change.
Brad Stevens’ squad is in the midst of one of the worst injury crises that any team in the league has suffered this year. Irving and Marcus Smart are likely out until the playoffs, Brown has only just returned from a concussion, Daniel Theis is done for the season, and they’re still without one of their marquee free-agent signings in Hayward. The only constant has been Rozier doing his best to pick up some of the slack.
There’s so much going on in the NBA that it’s easy for the national media to gloss over a guy like “Scary Terry”. The reality is that he’s the most important bench player on one of the best teams in The Association. With the way things are going right now in Boston, he’s about to get his time in the spotlight.
The Celtics are looking at a first-round match-up against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Miami Heat, or the Washington Wizards. None of these teams are pushovers. They’ve each gotten the better of the Celtics at some point this season. Boston, as the second seed, will be favored, but don’t be surprised if a tough series develops in Kyrie’s absence.
If Irving’s team is going to survive without him and some other key players, Rozier will need to keep doing what he has been doing. There is not enough scoring on this short-handed Celtics team to survive the heightened stakes and competition that come as the season turns into the playoffs. If Rozier can keep knocking down outside shots and cutting to the rim with the smoothness we’ve grown accustomed to seeing, then the team should be fine even in a first round series without “Uncle Drew.”
There will be doubters on the outside who see the depleted Celtics and think they might be vulnerable to a first-round upset. It will probably be a popular pick on some of the national media shows, but people who watch day in and day out have seen this team repeatedly come back and win against incredible odds. They recognize just how uniquely deep the Celtics’ fighting spirit runs.
No one embodies that more than Terry Rozier.