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What is Terry Rozier’s Trade Value This Summer?

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The Celtics were one game away from the NBA Finals minus arguably their best two players, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Hayward went down three minutes into the season. Young and up and coming star Jayson Tatum was handed a starting role with more minutes than we all expected, but he thrived in Brad Stevens system and was the Celtics’ best player in the playoffs. He showed signs of greatness, whether it’d be leading the team in scoring during the entire playoffs or going toe-to-toe with LeBron in the Eastern Conference Finals. When Kyrie went down with about twenty games left in the regular season, Stevens handed over the point guard duties to Terry Rozier and Shane Larkin. At first it was a tandem effort, but when Larkin injured his shoulder banging into Joel Embiid in game four of the Conference Semifinals, Rozier and Marcus Smart were the only ones left out of the depleted group of guards.

Rozier started to gain traction against my Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs, when he averaged almost 18 points and 7 assists per game. He also stole Eric Bledsoe’s will to live.

In the Conference Semifinals against the Sixers, Rozier once again shined, averaging 19 points while shooting 41 percent from deep. Against the Cavs in the ECF, Rozier came down from his shooting highs and regressed to the mean for the majority of the series but there were flashes of brilliance – like his highly efficient 28 point game six effort in Cleveland or his sick cock back dunk leaving LeBron behind in the dust in Game Two (LeBron did get him back in Game Seven but what I love about Terry is his response; “Next year I’m gonna catch him”)

Rozier is only 23 years old. He’s already got a few above average skills in his arsenal that would make him a competent or even above average starting point guard. After watching him deliberately throughout the playoffs and especially when he kicked my Buck’s asses, I got a little bit of a Westbrook vibe from him. He’s nowhere near Russ’s explosiveness and ability to get to the rim and score, but he’s shifty and can get a quick pull jumper off whenever he wants. When he’s isolated that’s usually his go-to move (over Bledsoe) but he also uses it in pick-and-roll situations when he gets into the mid-range area. Like Russ, he has a lot of lift on his shot and a quick release which makes it hard even for guys taller than him to guard. He also has great vision either attacking the rim and dropping it off to a teammate or in a pick-and-roll. Al Horford and Rozier connected a lot throughout the playoffs on that high screen and roll. Horford rolls and Rozier threads the needle, or Rozier comes off a screen and dances a little before hitting Al for an open three at the top of the key.

The nickname Scary Terry didn’t originate because Terry Rozier is afraid of the moment. The biggest thing that I love to see out of playmaking point guards is the mindset that no moment is too big. Rozier time and time again had the ball in his hands in the biggest moments of the Celtics playoff run. He hit that go ahead three over Eric Bledsoe in Game 1. Shot the lights out in Game 1 in the Philly series that snowballed into a Celtics domination. Had 14 in the third quarter alone in Game 2 against the Cavs. His grit and determination is uncanny. He plays hard and doesn’t back down from anyone. Gimme that in a point guard any day.

At only 6’2, his one alarming flaw is that he’s undersized and has trouble guarding bigger guys. The Cavs exploited Rozier throughout the series throwing him into switches that forced him to guard LeBron, and all LeBron had to do was back him down and finish over him in the paint or hit his signature fadeaway. Rozier is never going to be a top perimeter defender. But neither is Steph Curry, or Damian Lillard, or James Harden. With those guys, it comes down to effort. If Rozier can commit himself to expending at least some energy on the defensive end, he’ll be fine.

If you take Scary Terry’s averages during the Celtics playoff run and match them up against the other 31 starting point guards in the league at the end of the season, he ranks among the league’s best. In the playoffs he averaged 16.5 points per game along with 5.7 assists to just 1.2 turnovers. That puts him 11th overall in scoring and 14th in assists. He would be the league’s best at keeping the ball out of the hands of the opponent with his nearly flawless 1.2 turnovers per game. Only Darren Collison matches Rozier’s turnover number (also 1.2 per game). His PER (player efficiency rating) would rank 12th at 17.3. This year, eight (!) point guards were named to the All Star team: Steph Curry, Goran Dragic, Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, Chris Paul, John Wall, Kemba Walker, and Russell Westbrook. With the exception of Dragic (16.6), each had a PER of over 19. 17.3 isn’t that far off, and if Rozier would get an even more expanded role on a new team, his numbers project big things to come. I’m not going to sit here and say Terry Rozier is going to be a perennial all star, but I am going to argue that he would be a top 15 point guard in the league given the right situation that was bestowed to him in Boston once Kyrie went down.

There’s plenty of teams that are in need of a point guard. It’s the ones that are willing to deal with evil genius Danny Ainge that have a shot at stealing Rozier. Here’s a couple that come to mind…

Orlando Magic

The Magic have been the league’s sneaky worst franchise in the league (hey Sacramento) in the past decade with some questionable trades (trading for Serge Ibaka and trading away Victor Oladipo), questionable draft picks (Mario Hezonja, Andrew Nicholson), and questionable personnel decisions (Bismack Biyombo and Terrence Ross contracts). They also haven’t had a competent point guard since the Jameer Nelson days. By drafting Mo Bamba a couple days ago, they’re going to need someone that is going to be able to run an offense and feed Bamba. The Magic can’t afford to waste Bamba’s rookie year because DJ Augustin is the point guard.

Phoenix Suns

This might be my favorite fit. A Rozier and Devin Booker backcourt could be a League Pass gem. The defense would be an issue but the scoring could be comparable to a Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum backcourt. The Suns are a talented young team and with a couple more pieces could make some noise in the West. Adding Rozier would kickstart that. I could also see the Suns making a move at the deadline with someone like Kevin Love. We’ll see.

Indiana Pacers

Darren Collison had a nice year after stepping into a starting role last year (12 points and 5 assists with a 18.8 PER) but Rozier would be an upgrade. Him and Oladipo could also be a fun backcourt that could light it up. Oladipo’s defensive ability better suits playing alongside Rozier and the Pacers need another player that can create his own shot.

Or Brad Stevens can keep him and have the best point guard duo in the league. If the Celtics want to move Rozier, this summer is the perfect time to do so. His stock couldn’t be any higher. Long live Scary Terry.

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