2018 Awards Series Sixth Man: Terry Rozier

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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 – There was one deciding factor between the top candidates for the Sixth Man of the Year award for the Celtics: availability.

Terry Rozier was available at all times throughout the season, and he delivered high-level play throughout the season. That’s why he is this year’s Sixth Man of the Year.

Rozier played 80 games for Boston, 64 of which he played as a reserve. The other top two candidates for the award, Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris, combined to play only 104 games with only 76 of those games being played in reserve roles.

During his third season, Rozier made a significant leap at the offensive end of the court. He became a reliable, nightly scorer off the bench while averaging 10.2 points per game as a reserve. Rozier averaged 11.2 PPG overall on the season.

The most critical improvement in Rozier’s game was with his outside shot. Rozier connected on just 30.6 percent of his 3-pointers during the first two years of his career. This season, he spiked that percentage all the way up to 38.1 percent, which ranked fifth on the team among qualified players.

Shooting from beyond the arc was the fuel to Rozier’s offense. He was outstanding from long distance after he was forced to step into the starting lineup in place of an injured Kyrie Irving; Rozier shot 48.9 percent from downtown during 16 games as a starter.

The ability to score both as a reserve and as a fill-in starter is critical to being a Sixth Man of the Year award candidate. Equally important is the ability to contribute in other areas of the game.

Rozier did just that by serving as a rebounding machine from the point guard position, by taking care of the ball, and by making an impact on defense.

Among Boston’s players who appeared in 35 or more games, Rozier ranked fifth in rebounds per 36 minutes with a mark of 6.5. He trailed only Daniel Theis (10.5), Aron Baynes (10.5), Al Horford (8.4) and Morris (7.2) – all of whom are frontline players – in that category.

Rozier averaged only 2.9 assists per game on the season but that number mattered less so than his minimal turnover average of only 1.0 turnovers per game. His resulting assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.9-to-1 was sparkling, and it trailed only Shane Larkin’s ratio of 2.97-to-1 on the team.

At the other end of the court, Rozier used his athleticism and instincts to make a positive impact on Boston’s defense. He averaged a steal per game and also finished fourth on the team in defensive rating (101.0) among players who appeared in at least 55 games. Rozier finished slightly ahead of Al Horford (101.1 DRTG), who was an All-Defensive Second Team selection this season, in that category.

Add all of Rozier’s numbers together and you’ve got a player who was critical to Boston’s rotation. He played in all but two of the team’s 101 games on the season, and he impacted the game at a high level on both ends.

On offense, he protected the ball and put it through the basket from long distance at a high rate. On defense, he harassed opposing point guards and contributed to efficient and effective team defense.

No other Celtics reserve can make similar claims, and that’s why Rozier earned our 2018 Sixth Man of the Year award.