BOSTON – If you look at Terry Rozier’s basketball odyssey, it is filled with moments in which the 6-foot-2 guard got a shot to make an impact and more often than not, he did.
During Boston’s first-round playoff series against Atlanta, Rozier went from a seldom-used reserve into a viable option off the bench that head coach Brad Stevens turned to a lot.
In fact, Rozier’s playing time in the playoffs more than doubled (19.8 minutes) from the minutes he logged per game (8.0) during the regular season.
“With this business, how it works, it’s all about opportunity,” Rozier said. “And my opportunity just happened to come (in the playoffs).”
And Rozier for the most part made the most of it.
It was an opportunity Rozier believes he can build on during the offseason with a goal being to cement a spot for himself in the team’s regular rotation.
He understands all too well that his opportunity to play more was due in large part to Avery Bradley suffering a right hamstring injury of the fourth quarter of Boston’s Game 1 loss at Atlanta.
The increased playing time naturally brought about a bump in his overall stats as his scoring (4.8 points versus 1.8), rebounding (3.4 versus 1.6) and effective shooting percentage (.478 versus .302) all underwent a significant increase.
“I try to take advantage of it as much as I can,” Rozier said of his increased role. “Whether it was rebounding, whatever the coach needed me to do. Like I said, I was happy to be out there just to enjoy the time with a lot of my teammates. It’s been a great year. I had a lot of fun.”
But as Rozier will soon find out, past success doesn’t necessarily correlate with improved play going forward.
In addition to putting in the necessary work to improve physically, Rozier knows he has to step his game up mentally, too.
The best players in the league have a certain swagger, an elite level of confidence about them that often separates them from the masses.
Rozier isn’t quite there yet, but having been given an opportunity to see his most action in the postseason can only help.
“I’m gonna feel more confident,” he said. “Not too many rookies can say they played in the playoffs. It’s definitely going to give me a boost for summer league. I’ll have the ball in my hands a lot. It’s definitely going to be a confidence booster.”
Among the areas that Rozier sees as an absolute-must for him next season is being more vocal with his teammates.
“This year was more learning, watching it and all the veterans,” he said. “Next year, I think I can take on a bigger role.”
Boston’s Evan Turner agrees.
“He’s going to be a good player in this league,” Turner told CSNNE.com. “He already defends at an NBA-level, a high level, so that’s half the battle right there. He just has to get more comfortable with his game, with his teammates and he’ll be fine.”
One thing that hasn’t been a problem for Rozier thus far in the NBA is rebounding.
This past season, he averaged 9.7 rebounds per 48 minutes which ranked 8th in the NBA. And his offensive rebound average per 48 minutes (3.7) was tops among players who logged at least 300 minutes this past season.
“It goes back to me just the way I grew up,” Rozier said. “Rebounding was always my thing. It’s something you can’t teach; it’s part of toughness. That’s something, I don’t think it’s ever going to leave me.”
Rozier said his goal next season is to average at least five rebounds per game which would put him in some pretty exclusive company.
This past season, only 12 guards averaged at least five rebounds who logged more than 300 minutes per game.
But as Rozier has shown us thus far, he can be an impactful player when given an opportunity – something he believes he will get more of next season.
“I can’t wait until next season,” Rozier said. “I felt (our season) was cut a little short. But unfortunately, things come to an end. We’ll be back next season. We’ll be better; I’ll be better. That’s the most important thing.”