Examining the Ceiling of Boston Celtics Wildcard Terry Rozier

With Kyrie Irving's postseason in doubt, Brad Stevens may hand the playoff keys to Terry Rozier.


Terry Rozier has had a pretty fascinating career so far, and he’s only in his third NBA season.

He started out as a reach. When Danny Ainge selected Rozier with the 16th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, many thought Ainge was reaching for the young guard. Rozier had a solid sophomore season at Louisville, but scouts did not see his size and shooting as translatable skills to the NBA.

The next stage of Rozier’s career was the “Danny won’t trade me” phase. This has become more of a comedic notion, but it once seemed very real. In 2016, the Celtics were in talks with the Philadelphia 76ers about trading for Nerlens Noel. The Sixers asked Ainge to part ways with Rozier to make it happen, but he hung up the phone instead.

Thank you, Danny Ainge.

The Celtics would not be where they are right now without Terry Rozier. The young bull showcased glimpses of what he can be in his first two seasons, but this year he is starting to put it all together.

Rozier has nearly doubled his scoring to 10.9 points per game and brought his 3-point percentage from 32 to 38 percent. This has also come with a serious collection of highlight plays.

In his first couple of seasons, Rozier’s biggest struggles came at the rim. He was hesitant to dunk and seemingly never finished strong to the rack. Boy, how things have changed.

These two plays are just microcosms of what Rozier has showed us this season.

So the real question is, how good can he be?

Let’s start with a current comparison.

To me, Rozier could become a mix of some other star guards in the league. One thing that has become very apparent is how explosive Terry is. When he gets into the open floor, he reminds me a lot of John Wall. Wall is a little bigger and a little more explosive, but the end-to-end speed is very similar.

As simple as it looks, not a lot of players in the league have this type of controlled acceleration.

As mentioned before, Rozier is shooting 38 percent from deep this season. If he can keep or improve on this number, no one will ever knock his shooting. What’s been most impressive about Rozier’s shot this season is his clutch ability to knock down tough ones.

He has a killer instinct and fears no shot, no matter what the score or clock reads. Going against maybe the best backcourt in basketball last night in Portland, Rozier hit a game-tying 3-pointer and went 4 of 4 from the free-throw line, all in the final three minutes of a tight game.

Defensively, I see a guy that’s playing the wrong sport, and I mean that as a compliment. Rozier jumps the passing lane better than most. I’m pretty confident he could play defensive back for the New England Patriots, but what he’s doing with the Celtics is just fine with me. Look how great he reads the ball here, and he has the athleticism to collect himself and finish on the other end.

Was this a bad pass? Absolutely, but Terry was a good 25 feet from the ball when it leaves Bojan Bogdanovic’s hands.

So, again, how good the former No. 16 overall pick be?

If (When) he eventually garners a starting spot, Rozier will flourish. It’s not out of the question to see him put up 18-20 points and seven assists night in and night out. He’ll continue to dig deeper into his untapped potential, and his worker mentality won’t stop until he reaches this.

Whether that comes in Celtics green, with Kyrie Irving pretty firmly planted in front of him, remains to be seen.

For now, let’s enjoy what we have with Rozier. We don’t know how long he’ll be in Boston, but we know he’ll be a star.