Rozier Impressing Early, Displays Desire to Learn

WALTHAM, Mass. – Terry Rozier refers to the past eight days as, “the fastest-paced week of my life.”

The young man had no idea what the future had in store for him when he woke up last Thursday morning.

Later that night, the Boston Celtics selected the Louisville point guard with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. He and the four other Boston draftees were formerly introduced at the Celtics practice facility on Monday. Since then, Rozier has spent hours in the Waltham facility attempting to grasp the Boston system and adapt to the NBA style of play.

“I feel like I’m adjusting pretty well, but it’s tough,” said Rozier.

He’s had only a small taste of action, 18 total minutes of scrimmage time according to his coach Brad Stevens, but Rozier’s skillset has impressed so far.

“His speed is the highest level,” Stevens said following Friday’s practice. “Once we start going up and down the full court, he did a lot of things that kind of took you aback.”

Stevens went on to note, “At the same time, he’s got a lot to learn and a lot to work on, but I know he’ll do that. I’ve got no question about that.”

Rozier’s willingness to learn has been evident. Immediately after Friday’s workout, he and Stevens met at one end of the court for a lengthy conversation. The 6-foot-2 rookie said they were going over how to defend off-ball screens, an aspect of his game that needs improvement.

Rozier feels he is quickly growing close to Boston’s head coach. He says Stevens “makes you feel comfortable and he’s very smart. He knows the game, so any knowledge he’s got to tell you, you try to grasp it all in and pay attention.”

That willingness to learn and improve is why Rozier believes the Celtics fell in love with him during his pre-draft workouts.

He referred back to a vital moment during his second pre-draft session. He performed poorly during a shooting drill, and knowing that shooting was not one of his strong points, Rozier attempted the drill again and again until he got a satisfying score.

“I went longer than what the workout was supposed to go,” recalled Rozier, who’s more of a slashing scorer than a pure shooter. “I still was just trying to get better at the shooting and that’s something that I do… just want to shoot after practice. [I] want to learn and want to get better.”

Rozier added, “I know Danny Ainge saw that in me and I know Brad Stevens saw that in me. That’s just me as a person. It’s not an act, so they can sense it and it’s a good thing.”

His teammates can sense it as well. Marcus Smart saw Rozier work out with the team earlier in June and said, “I can definitely see why the Celtics picked him up. He’s a competitive guy and he competes everyday, so that’s a good person to go up against everyday in practice and that’s a good person to have on your team.”

That statement must be reassuring for Rozier, given the fact that the pair will likely be competing for playing time next season.

But on Thursday, Rozier said that the “Terry Rozier vs. Marcus Smart” headline is a false narrative.

“At the end of the day we’re teammates and he helps me so much,” he added. “He was in my shoes last year so he understands. After every play, anything I gotta ask him, he’ll let me know, or sometimes he’ll just tell me. He’s great, he’s a high-competitive type of guy and I love going up against him.”

He’s going up against seven other guards on Boston’s summer league roster, to be exact. And although the current Celtics regular-season cast appears to be guard-heavy, Rozier is embracing the situation in a positive manner.

“At the end of the day we’ve all got ‘Celtics’ on the front of our jerseys, so we’re as one,” he said. “We’re going to definitely compete because that’s something that got us here and that’s something we love to do.”

In a few days, Rozier and the other rookies will have their first taste of NBA-level competition when they tip off summer league play in Utah. The team’s plane lifts off Saturday night for Salt Lake City.

In the meantime, his body is just trying to catch up after a grueling first week with the program.

“These last couple of days [have been] rough because you’re getting back into this plan where you haven’t been doing it for awhile,” said Rozier, who’s been trying to keep his feet up as much as possible when not at the Waltham training facility. “It’s a different type of shape you’ve gotta be in, so you want to take care of your body off the court.”

Enjoy the R&R while you can, Terry. Things are about to kick up a notch in Salt Lake City.


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