1-on-1 with the Most Criticized Pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, Terry Rozier

Brian Robb@CelticsHubFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2015

Boston Celtics' Terry Rozier (12) goes to the basket as San Antonio Spurs' Roscoe Smith, rear, defends during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game Thursday, July 9, 2015, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — There may have not been a more controversial selection in the first round of the 2015 NBA draft than Terry Rozier going to the Boston Celtics at No. 16. 

The 6'2" former Louisville guard was projected near the bottom of the first round by most top draft publications such as DraftExpressBleacher Report's Howard Beck even asserted many summer league onlookers already believe Rozier is the biggest reach of the draft

The 21-year-old is looking forward to shedding the early bust label in the midst of a crowded Boston backcourt featuring young, proven talent such as Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart. 

Bleacher Report sat down with Rozier for an exclusive interview this week in Las Vegas to learn more about the guard's game, adjustment to the NBA and much more. 

Bleacher Report: How are you adjusting to the summer league pace and style so far?

Terry Rozier: It’s definitely a different pace. I’m just trying to keep myself in basketball shape and take care of my body while I can. Out here in Las Vegas, you are playing a lot of games back-to-back, so you have to know yourself.

Every game and every minute you get to step on the court is an opportunity to feel more comfortable and get better. I’m surrounded by some great guys and leaders in Marcus Smart, James Young and even the guys I came in with. We are just so supportive of one another. It’s a lot of fun.

B/R: Which of your teammates have you been most impressed with during summer league?

TR: I’m very blessed to come in and have a guy like Marcus Smart to guide me through a lot of things. Like I said, he was in my position last year and I feel like I have an edge over other rookies because I get to battle with him. He’s tough and can show me the ropes and teach me a lot. The competitiveness between me and him is very high, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Stephan Savoia/Associated Press

B/R: What kind of conversations have you had with head coach Brad Stevens and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge? Have they given you any kind of indication about your role for next season?

TR: They have been very supportive. They make me feel comfortable in all situations, and they know how to talk to you. They have made me feel comfortable since I’ve come in and are supporting me. I’ve had a lot of fun playing for them.

B/R: What’s the mentality coming into this backcourt like? There is a tremendous amount of depth with Smart, Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley, along with the rookies. Is that kind of competition ideal for you, to push you day in and day out?

TR: To be honest, I’m just trying to find my fit. I’m trying to contribute to this squad building on Boston's performance from last year. I know I will find my minutes on the floor, no matter how many minutes it is. I will find something that I can do well. I know the coaches and Danny Ainge believe in me. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have drafted me with the No. 16 pick. I’m blessed, and I’m just trying to get better every day.

Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

B/R: You have spoken a lot about your admiration of Dwyane Wade as a player in the past. Are you still trying to model your game after him?

TR: Let the past be the past. He was my favorite player growing up when I was young. I’m in the league now, and I just want to get better. I want to be the best I can be and be a complete player. People keep bringing up that Dwyane Wade comparison, and I’ve had enough of that. We just need to let it die.

B/R: What are some things you feel you need to work on offensively? Is there anything you didn’t even know you needed to work on before coming to Vegas?

TR: Just reading screens and things like that. Learning how guys are going to play me. There are a lot of things I can work on, but mainly learning to make the right plays. Trying to make the right ones all the time, since that’s what separates good point guards from great ones. It’s a learning process, and I’m willing to learn, so I’ll get better at it.

B/R: You’ve struggled throughout your career finishing at the rim, which is understandable given your size. Is that an area you want to improve? 

TR: If I miss [a layup], my big is there to clean it up and dunk it, so that’s kind of an assist. I do have to practice not turning the ball over at the rim, but I also have to get my knees back in great shape and start dunking things. I’ll be fine. I got to this point with missed layups, so I’ll be all right.

Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

B/R: How much has the added space on offense at the NBA level impacted your game so far?

TR: It’s huge. That’s something I have noticed the most. It has stood out to me since the [rookie] combine. There’s more space with no defensive three seconds. In college, [the lack of space] is ridiculous. It’s beautiful to see the space in the NBA. The lane is wide open a lot, and if the defense crashes in, you hit the corner. Playing with so much space is a lot of fun.

B/R: Defense was considered one of your strengths at Louisville, but just how much of an adjustment is learning NBA schemes compared to what you saw in the Atlantic Coast Conference? 

TR: Scouting is important. You just want to know whom you are playing against and how to play them well within the team’s defense. It’s a team game, and just about every team "ices" on the pick-and-roll, so you want to pull over and play help defense as much as you can. Sometimes, you are going to give up a bucket, but defense is the key. That’s the most important thing.

B/R: Your player profile at Louisville lists spaghetti with ranch and sugar as one of your favorite foods. That seems like a peculiar combination…how did you stumble on that?

TR: Well, spaghetti is good with ranch, and spaghetti is good with sugar. You put all of that together and make a sandwich out of it and you get greatness. People shouldn’t judge unless they try it. Spaghetti can last a month in our house. You make a big pot, and it can last the whole week.

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