Playing behind an All-Star can be both a blessing and a curse.
That’s where Terry Rozier stands entering his second season with the Boston Celtics.
Rozier is a point guard who’s been making strides in training camp. Rozier is also a point guard who’s vying for minutes with Isaiah Thomas.
Rozier may only be 22 years old, but he is old enough to know what’s up.
He plays behind an All-Star. He is blessed. And he is cursed.
“A little bit of both,” Rozier told Amico Hoops after a Celtics practice in Waltham, Mass. “It was a blessing to learn so much from (Thomas) my rookie season — seeing the things he did on the court, seeing what it takes to be an All-Star. He does a great job of leading by example.”
As for the cursed part?
“It’s difficult, because you want to get out there and play,” Rozier said.
Rozier is a product of Shaker Heights High School in the Cleveland suburbs. During his senior year of 2012, he lifted Shaker to a 21-3 record and the regional semifinals for the first time in a decade.
“It made me into the man I am today,” Rozier said of his Northeast Ohio upbringing. “I notice now that growing up there has helped me in a lot of ways.”
ON TO THE PROS
After high school, Rozier spent a season at Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy. He then became a standout under coach Rick Pitino at Louisville for a couple years. He declared for the draft following his sophomore season.
The Celtics selected Rozier with the No. 16 overall pick in 2015.
But his rookie year consisted of just 39 games and eight minutes a night. It also involved more than a few marches to Maine, home of the Celtics’ D-League affiliate.
For the most part, he played the role of watch-and-learn behind Thomas and Marcus Smart. Rozier averaged less than three shots a game and just 1.8 points with Boston.
Now, though, things seem to be looking up.
“He’s coming to work every day, trying to get some minutes,” forward Jae Crowder told Celtics.com. “He wants to play. It’s very obvious he wants to play bad and he’s having a great training camp so far.”
Rozier is 6-foot-2 and spent the summer working on adding arc to his jump shot. Mostly, he watched lots of film.
“I’m trying to become a smarter point guard,” he told Amico Hoops. “It’s probably the most important position in the league. If you don’t have the brains to play the position it only makes it tougher on yourself. So I try to do a lot of film study. I want to see the areas that I need to improve.”
Of course, summer wasn’t all basketball, all the time. Rozier also managed to journey back to Northeast Ohio when the opportunity presented itself.
“I visit as much as I can,” he said. “I come back to see my family, and that is always great.”
As for life in Boston, it’s still half blessing, half curse. It’s still all of Thomas in front of him.
But Rozier doesn’t seem to mind.
“If you work hard enough and go against him every day, you’ve got no choice but to get better,” he said.