BOZICH | Rozier touts Onuaku to Celtics -- and Celtics to Onuaku
Former Louisville guard Terry Rozier has touted Chinanu Onuaku to the Boston Celtics -- and the Celtics to Onuaku.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – When Danny Ainge calls, Terry Rozier answers. Even when Rozier is sleeping.
On Monday morning, Ainge, the general manger of the Boston Celtics, called. Rozier was sleeping. Not for long. He answered all of Ainge’s questions about Chinanu Onuaku, his former teammate at the University of Louisville.
Of course, Rozier also took a call from Onuaku. He wanted to ask about Boston.
The Celtics own eight of the 60 picks in the 2016 NBA Draft, which will unfold Thursday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Nobody would be surprised if Onuaku becomes a guy who’ll be walking through that door into Boston.
The Celtics own picks three, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51 and 58. No mock drafts have Onuaku being selected as early as 23rd. But he would be a logical fit with Boston with the 31st, 35th or 45th pick.
This is the scouting report that Rozier shared with Ainge:
“He’s great. He’s a kid who you’ve just got to get to know, welcome in with open arms. He’s going to accept you all the way. He’s a great rebounder, outlet passer. But Danny already knows that. He can definitely play in the league.”
There was nothing magical about Rozier’s advice to Onuaku: Work hard.
Onuaku decided to depart Louisville after two seasons. At 6-10 and 245 pounds, he projects as a back-up center who will have to improve his offensive skills to earn starter’s minutes. He has worked out for multiple NBA teams, including the 76ers, Celtics, Nuggets and Hornets.
The unknown: Are NBA general managers and coaches concerned by the heart procedure that Onuaku underwent after his solid performance at the Draft Combine in Chicago last month?
“Are some teams concerned?” said the chief scout for one NBA team. “Yes. Absolutely.”
Rozier has been in Louisville the last two days, assisting former Cardinal guards Peyton Siva and Russ Smith at their basketball camp at Collegiate High School. Rozier said he planned to return to his home in Akron Wednesday night before flying to Boston this weekend.
He will play on the Celtics’ summer league team, which is booked for competition in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.
Rozier said he is encouraged by conversations he’s had with Ainge and Celtics’ coach Brad Stevens about an increased opportunity for the 2016-17 season.
He played in 39 of 82 regular-season games for the Celtics, averaging eight minutes and 1.8 points. Rozier also made six trips to the NBA Developmental League, averaging 19.4 points in 14 games for the Maine Red Claws.
“I was at my highest,” Rozier said. “I was at my lowest. The lowest was playing in the D League, a great humbling, experience. The highest was playing in the playoffs. There were a lot of rookies that didn’t get a chance to do that.”
The biggest flashing light on Rozier’s rookie season was his shooting percentage. He made only 27.4 percent of his field goal attempts during the NBA regular season and also shot less than 40 percent (39.3 percent) in the D-League.
But the Celtics showed considerable faith in Rozier during the playoffs. With his backcourt scrambled by injury, Stevens used Rozier in all five post-season games against the Atlanta Hawks. He averaged 20 minutes per game, scoring 10 in the playoff opener. He made 39.1 percent of his shots while averaging 4.8 points.
“I don’t think I need to show people anything,” Rozier said. “Just keep my confidence going. I know there’s a lot of things I need to work on. That’s something I’ve been doing since I’ve been playing basketball. I try to seize it and I want to go get it.”
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