Jason Terry has the reputation of an unconscionable gunner, a forest fire waiting to happen, the man who gets hot and won’t stop missing until all the trees are burned down and the woodpeckers no longer have any place to call home. He scores consistently and in bunches, from outside mostly but also off the move, and often lets opponents know about his latest outburst by pretending to be an airplane and “flying” around the court.
JET’s scoring will certainly help the explosiveness-starved Celtics, but one of the biggest takeaways from the first two games was seeing how much intelligence Terry displays on a consistent basis.
Count C’s coach Doc Rivers as another fan of Terry’s, saying that “he’s so clever. For a coach, it’s strange to say, but he’s fun for me to watch play because he’s so ahead of the game and ahead of the players on the floor. He see things. He’s a fun guy to coach.”
Terry scored 11 points in 28 minutes of action against EA7 Milano on Sunday and should continue to light up the scoreboard, but his greater contributions could come as a playmaker. The Celtics don’t just need shot makers, they need shot creators. And Terry isn’t the type of player to spot up in the corner all afternoon or waste all of his time trying to get open around screens. He shows a real capacity for making a quick dribble-drive before the defense can react to ball movement, and he hits the open man with kick-outs. He rarely overdribbles, preferring to move the ball quickly with the pass. He can run point guard and he’s quite difficult to defend in pick-and-pop situations, where defenses have to stay so alert on Terry they’ll often forget about his pop guy, who will normally be the potent Kevin Garnett or Brandon Bass.
Rivers wasn’t alone in calling Terry clever. Rajon Rondo said when he drives to the baseline, Terry instinctively knows to move himself to the short corner for an opening. Reacting properly to a teammate’s movement is an incredibly underrated skill in basketball. Look at how Sullinger found easy looks in his first two games, mostly by rolling to the hoop when his defender became preoccupied with somebody else.
Rondo went on to say this year’s team is more selfless basketball-wise than other prior versions. Because he makes so many big shots, Terry doesn’t have the same unselfish reputation of, say, Garnett. But JET’s team mentality is underrated. He’s not just a scoring outburst waiting to happen. He’s also a cerebral basketball player who’s fun to watch, fun to play with and difficult to compete against.