Terry Rozier could end up being one of the most important players if he breaks out this season.
The Boston Celtics have a lot of young players that they are hoping can break out this season, but there is a little more weight on Terry Rozier becoming a capable ball handler.
As always, you have the difference Rozier himself will make. The Celtics believe in his potential on both ends of the court, and if he makes a leap this season he can be the most important player off the bench.
The added difference Rozier would make is allowing a lot more lineup freedom for Brad Stevens, specifically Marcus Smart.
The reason Jaylen Brown started in Avery Bradley‘s absence is because the second unit could not function without Smart. No one else could run the offense, and the team suffered too much.
If Rozier breaks out Stevens does not have to worry about that. Having that trusted second unit ball handler will allow Smart to play more minutes with the best players on the team, allowing Stevens to be able to give his best lineups more minutes together, without having to worry about the other units being abused too much.
This is the most talent Stevens’ has ever had at his disposal, but he will need to try out a lot of different combinations to find out what works.
One thing that can hold any lineup back is if Stevens is concerned about saving some of the better players’ minutes, so the second unit is not too much of a liability.
Rozier will play a huge role in ensuring that Stevens gets to use the top combinations that he wants, and those units will not be too worried about making up so much for the second unit.
It may not happen right away. but Stevens will give Rozier the time he needs to make this kind of difference. With such a fresh roster, Stevens will need multiple players to break out.
For Rozier, breaking out is not even necessarily improving his ability at all. Rozier does not have to be a top shooter and he does not have to be perfect on the defensive end to still have an impact.
Of course, the Celtics would love to get that out of Rozier, and that is where his potential comes from. The difference with Rozier is that if he is just serviceable, then a bunch of things can open up for other players.
There is a lot of intrigue abut a Kyrie Irving and Smart back court. They could be one of the best offense/defense back courts in the NBA, and when things are most important they should both expect to be on the court.
The Celtics also want Smart to be fresh for those minutes. If he is running the second unit, then those minutes will be limited, or he could be too drained when the game is on the line.
The good news is that the Celtics have seen Rozier play well enough to take on this role. Especially in the playoffs, he has shown flashes of being a trusted ball handler, and a great presence on the defensive end.
The ultimate test this season will be how well he can sustain it. Rozier will be guiding a lot of young players that have not been in this offense before. It will not always work, but every strong minute Rozier plays with the second unit, is an extra minute that Smart can play with the best players on the team.
Rozier’s success will also be evaluated differently than other players. It is not just enough for Rozier to have respectable numbers himself. Rozier needs to make sure that the whole unit is functioning properly.
Rozier can get by if his shooting percentages don’t catch up, and his play on the court is not quite as pretty as some would like. What Rozier cannot overcome is a second unit that is lost, and is a liability too often.
The Celtics have felt food about Rozier’s potential for multiple years now, but that is no longer going to be enough. If Rozier is not able to consistently run the second unit offense, without blowing all kinds of leads, then his time will run out quick in Boston.