Danny made several home runs this summer. Jared Sullinger is definitely in line to be the steal of the draft. The Courtney Lee trade brought a versatile and athletic player that few thought he'd be able to get. Darko so far seems to be filling his role perfectly. Fab Melo may be a future star. There have been several signings that make this team very deep and one that will be exciting to watch.
But, the signing that may just pay the most dividends this season is Jason Terry. He was their first target and he was Doc's first call as free agency started. We've seen the NOC videos where he asks fans for their autographs and goes out in the community meeting his fans and tries to learn to speak Bostonian. We also have seen his tattoo with Lucky holding the Larry O'Brien Trophy. From the start, he has embraced being a Celtic with a passion.
“I’m very happy to be here, I can tell you that,” Terry said. “Every day I wake up, it’s still like a dream to me. Obviously, playing with the best point guard in the league and two Hall of Famers, and then playing for a coach that is going to go down as one of the best in history, it’s a blessing. You know, I could easily be somewhere else, but the Celtics chose me and I’m very thankful.”
He has embraced the role of mentor to the younger players and has taken Dionte Christmas, particularly, under his wing. Before camp started, he was at the practice facility every day, and some nights, working with Christmas and the other young players who were there most of the summer working to prepare for the season. He's been very vocal and will be a favorite of the media this year as he's always ready with a soundbite and a fascinating interview no matter what the subject.
But even more important for the success of this team will be his versatility. He has been in the league 13 years and has successfully played the point and the 2 guard. He has also started and come off the bench, both with excellent results. He embraces whatever role he is given with gusto. He has gone to the Finals as a point guard, and won a title as a shooting guard. Doc has had Terry in the starting lineup and coming off the bench. He has played the point and the 2 guard. In the last game, Doc tried a hybrid approach when he started Jet at shooting guard and then subbed for him early to bring him back to play the point for the second unit when Rondo went out for a rest.
Terry, for his part, embraces every role. Unlike many players he has relished the role of 6th man and loves coming off the bench. But he has said he also loves starting. The truth of the matter is, Jet just loves playing basketball. From the Herald:
“I love starting,” he said. “I love coming off the bench. I just love playing the game. So any opportunity, I’m there and I’m ready for it. That’s all that matters.”
But one can see him light up when he talks about the special requirements for those who excel at making an impact on the game as a substitute.
“Oh, no question there are skills you have to have,” he said. “There is no warmup. You have to come in and you have to be right into the game and you have to know your assignment.
“You’ve got to be willing and ready to make plays and make shots. That’s the biggest thing that people struggle with. They’re like, OK, let me get two or three times up and down the court to get loose. Naw, there’s no getting loose.
“I hope the other guy that’s coming off the bench is trying to get loose when I’m coming in off the bench, because I’m going to wear him out. It’s just a psychological warfare that goes on. It’s just a battle that I love, and I’ve kind of just relished it.”
Add to his ability to fill two roles both as a starter and as a reserve, the fact that he is an excellent shooter and able to create his own shot. He also ups his game when the stakes get higher. He is at his best in the 4th quarter when the game is on the line and has earned the nickname "Mr. Fourth Quarter." He gives the Celtics a versatility that they never had with Ray Allen at the two.
His versatility and his willingness to do whatever he's asked to do, and his ability to fill every role to perfection is going to be key for the Celtics this season. When all is said and done, the signing of Jason Terry may not just be the first move this offseason, but possibly the best as well.