Before the start of the regular season, it remained unclear which one of Terry Rozier or Marcus Smart would be more likely to be around for the long haul with the Celtics.
Rozier was viewed more favorably around the league heading into this fall, coming off a superb postseason in which he averaged over 16.5 points per game while filling in for Kyrie Irving at the starting point guard spot. The adjustment back to the bench has not been pretty for Rozier for the majority of the 2018-19 campaign though. His offensive production has dipped across the board and the C's success with him on the court has slipped as well. Meanwhile, his former bench partner Marcus Smart has won a starting spot and carved himself as an indisposable piece at both ends of the floor for Brad Stevens thanks to his versatile defense, ball distribution and improved 3-point shooting.
Still, on a night where the Celtics need offense, Rozier provided a glimpse yet again of what he can do in an expanded role. He scored 22 of his season-high 26 points in the first half on Wednesday night while also adding a team-high eight rebounds and six assists, essentially doing it all to keep Boston afloat amid an ugly offensive start on their way to a 123-103 blowout win.
The Rozier starter phenomenon is what will make his looming restricted free agency fascinating to watch this summer from Boston's and a league-wide perspective. In six starts this season, Rozier has been superb, averaging 14.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 5.3 apg while shooting 42 percent from 3-point range. He's been an elite player when handed a bigger role and he credits a lot of that to Kyrie Irving, who informed him Wednesday morning that it would be his time to shine.
"Kyrie tells me that he’s out," Rozier said. "He texts me early in the morning just about every game that he’s out just so I can get mentally prepared, and he’s been good with that. He’s been a good mentor all year since we’ve been together, and he’s giving me that confidence early in the day."
Despite these strong glimpses of his potential while starting, Rozier has very little to improve his free agency stock on the whole, thanks to his lackluster bench play (7 ppg on 37 percent shooting from the field) which may very well create an interesting conundrum for the Celtics this summer.