BOSTON – Jaylen Brown has won over many fans this offseason with the way he has improved his overall play. Marcus Smart’s loss of 20 pounds has gained him a few more fans — and a 3-point shoot that’s pretty good, apparently. Al Horford remains a steady, guiding force for a team that will lean heavily on his experience and leadership.
Wait, hold up!
Weren’t there four players back from last year’s team?
Terry Rozier returns as well, but you wouldn’t know it by the lack of buzz surrounding the third-year guard.
Not a problem, Rozier says.
“I know what you’re saying but I’m not really caught up into it,” Rozier told NBC Sports Boston. “I’m just trying to control what I can control, man. Everybody has their favorites; everybody likes what they like. But as far as I’m worried about, it’s this team and how far we can go and how can we click. I know I will make a name for myself, sooner or later. Not just the fans here but for everybody.”
And the chances of that happening are as great as they’ve ever been since the Celtics drafted him with the 16th overall pick in 2015.
When he arrived there was a clear logjam in the backcourt that, frankly, showed little signs of him breaking through regardless of how well he played.
But when Boston traded Avery Bradley to Detroit and Isaiah Thomas as part of a deal with Cleveland for Kyrie Irving, it meant a chance to have a significant role was his for the taking this season.
“This year is my first year that I feel I got a role and feeling comfortable, just out there,” Rozier said. “It felt so natural. I don’t have to think so much like I usually do. Once that settles in, it’s over.”
In Boston’s 94-82 preseason win over Charlotte on Monday, Rozier came off the bench as Irving’s backup at the point.
He would finish with seven points, three steals and two rebounds.
Even before Boston traded away its starting backcourt this summer, Rozier was hoping for an opportunity to have a more expanded role this season.
A large chunk of his offseason was spent in gyms across the country, going through two and sometimes three workout sessions per day. Rozier said he participated in workouts in Cleveland (he’s originally from Youngstown, Ohio), Los Angeles and Miami.
Those workouts also included pick-up games against current NBA players such as new teammate Kyrie Irving, Washington Wizards all-star John Wall as well as a couple of ex-Celtics in Jeff Green and Kelly Olynyk.
Those were good times this summer, Rozier says.
“It was a lot of NBA talent,” said Rozier, “having a lot of fun, talking smack and competing.”
And it is that latter point raised by Rozier — competing — which is something he hopes to do more of this season.
While Thomas and Bradley’s departure opened a window for more playing time, it’s far from a given that he’ll see more action than the 17.1 minutes per game he averaged last season, which more than doubled his playing time (8.1 minutes per game) from his rookie season.
Even if there’s no spike in playing time, Rozier’s understanding of how to impact games going forward is indeed on the rise.
“With this great group of guys, it has no choice but to get better,” he said. “A guy like Kyrie, he’s teaching me a lot and things like that. Like I said, I’m controlling what I can control and I’m having fun doing it.”
And that should serve as a reminder to folks that Rozier is a pretty good player.
“If they don’t know [yet], they will know,” Rozier said, grinning.