Honesty is the best policy, and I’m going to be up front with you all; I avidly enjoy watching the Boston Celtics. I’ve lived in Maine my whole life (yes, we exist), so obviously it’s the only professional team in close proximity to me. In my semi-adult life, I’ve been to Charlotte, eaten Bojangles’, and thus my team affiliations have become a lot cloudier than they were when I wasn’t getting paid to talk about basketball. I may be a transplant, but it’s still Buzz City till it ain’t Buzz City no more.
More importantly, Monday was the Hornets media day and the first time the fan base has really gotten to see what the team’s new point guard Terry Rozier is all about. Due to his former team affiliation, I’ve spent a lot of time watching him play. He’s become one of my favorite players in the league, granted most of that reasoning is not because of his on-court production, though it’s not to say that he lacks in that department. His off-court personality should be a model for NBA players, as should his use of social media. He’s funny, competitive, and easy-going. He’ll fit in well as the head of the youth movement in Charlotte.
The Scary Terry experience is not without its ups and downs. For all the games during the Celtics’ 2017-2018 playoff run, there were games in 2018-2019 that made one question who they were watching. A lot has been made about Boston’s struggles last year, and among fans (especially Weird Celtics Twitter), Rozier seems to get blamed for some of it. Fair enough, because he never really seemed comfortable sliding into the backseat role yet again after proving that he can compete on a high level, mere minutes from an NBA Finals berth. Who can blame him? Not I. He’s in Charlotte now, and the backseat doesn’t even exist. He has been given the keys.
Rozier likes to get his shots up. Despite his insistence on “not talking about Kemba” at media day, his affinity for scoring will be important as the team tries to account for the loss. He has limited experience as a starting point guard, but “limited” is better than “none.” As a starter, Rozier’s shooting splits are 40.1%/39.6%/79.7% on 52.4 TS% compared to 37.5%/34.4%/77.2% on 48.5 TS%. His shooting efficiency goes way up when he has the confidence that a starting role gives a young player, even if those opportunities are limited.
Rozier’s value as a defender for Boston was underrated, too. He struggles with certain aspects of “team defense,” like rotating off of help and switching on/off of the right matchups. But, he does play well on-ball. Brad Stevens would sometimes use his as a singular full-court defender and he’d glue himself to the ball-handler’s hip. He’s a quick, springy athlete at 6’1” so his ability to play defense is purely mental; and in Charlotte, where he’s no longer in the back seat and being forced to take whatever scraps were left for him, I think his motivation on that end will be at an all-time high. He’s been saying it all summer; this is the year for Rozier to prove himself.
Terry Rozier is not Kemba Walker. He spent a lot of time at media day talking about it. So for this season, it’s best to not use a comparative lens when watching Rozier play, and just let him do him. One really can’t argue with the results when that happens; use the months April and May of 2018 for example.