It’s awards season at Celtics.com! We’re handing out six awards over the next few weeks as we roll through this year’s Celtics.com Awards Series. We may not have trophies or acceptance speeches, but we do have some top-flight Celtics performances to outline. Here we go…
BOSTON – The rookie-to-sophomore transition is a critical period for young, developing NBA players. Just ask Celtics guard Terry Rozier, who, in one year’s time, blossomed from a rarely-used rookie into a significant role player on a contending team.
From his first season to his second, Rozier displayed a massive boost in confidence and saw his numbers spike across the board. For those reasons, he has been named our 2017 Most Improved Player.
Rozier only played 39 games for the C’s during his inaugural campaign, largely because he spent a solid portion of the season traveling between the NBA and the D-League. When he was in Boston, he rarely saw significant action as he was often dealt garbage-time minutes.
Rather than let all of that discourage him, Rozier sat down after the season was over, gathered his thoughts, and set his goals high for his sophomore campaign.
“I did a lot of thinking,” he reflected last October as he entered training camp. “I wanted to clear my mind for a little bit, then I started watching film and seeing what areas I could improve on and things like that.”
Rozier noticed that he was often rushing his decisions on the court, so he slowed down his approach to the game. As a result, he evolved into a much more reliable option at the point, and Brad Stevens began leaning heavily on his support off the bench.
Rozier’s numbers doubled in nearly every major statistical category from Year 1 to Year 2. After tallying 1.8 points, 1.6 rebounds, 0.9 assists over 8.0 minutes per game during his rookie season, he boosted his averages to 5.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG and 1.8 APG over 17.1 MPG as a sophomore.
The greatest development for Rozier was his shooting. He increased his 2-point percentage from 29.1 percent to 40.5 percent, while also upping his 3-point clip from 22.2 percent to 31.8 percent.
All of those improvements came during the regular season. Then the Playoffs arrived, and Rozier took his game to an even higher level.
Stevens tightened up his rotation a bit during the postseason, but Rozier remained a key component as he played the seventh-most minutes on the team. He posted nearly identical averages during the postseason (5.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG and 1.9 APG) as he did during the regular season, all while his shooting numbers continued to climb (43.2 percent from 2 and 36.8 percent from 3).
Rozier’s most notable playoff contribution was his elite ball handling. He did not turn the ball over a single time until Game 3 of the second round against Washington, and only committed a turnover during five of Boston’s 18 postseason games.
Boston benefitted greatly from Rozier’s reliability while he was on the court, and he had a postseason team-high plus/minus rating of plus-55 to show for it. By comparison, no other player on the team had a total plus/minus rating that exceeded plus-16.
The 6-foot-2 23-year-old proved that he could be a dependable option to turn to when leading scorer Isaiah Thomas needed a break, as he ran the point with veteran-like poise.
It’s not easy for a young, inexperienced player to carve out a role on a contending team, but Rozier found a way this past season. He showed magnificent strides from Year 1 to Year 2, and should only continue to improve as the 2017-18 season approaches.