Jason Terry was quite the revelation last season. Most people would admit that they were skeptical of the role Terry would play last season when the Rockets traded for him. He was coming off a terrible 2013-2014 season, in which he only played 35 games for the Brooklyn Nets.
It seemed like another, standard deal to bring a veteran to a team with high aspirations. However, Terry surprised us all with his performance last season. Whether he was coming off the bench or starting at point guard, he did a great job performing in his veteran role, which included some surprisingly good defensive performances in the playoffs against the likes of Chris Paul and Stephen Curry.
He provided the veteran leadership that the Rockets desperately needed in the playoffs and when times were tough. Interestingly enough, it doesn't seem like Terry is filling in that role again this season. Let's check in on Terry's season so far and see what he's doing under J.B. Bickerstaff.
When looking at Terry's numbers, it's hard to tell what the difference is with his role this season. Terry is averaging 5.8 points per game, and a little over 1 assist and 1 rebound per game. Those numbers are pretty close to his stats from last season, when he averaged 7 points per game. In fact, Terry is actually averaging more points per game per 36 minutes this season (12.6) than last season (11.9).
Using advanced statistics provided by Basketball Reference, Terry has a box-plus minus of -1.3 this season, a far cry from his -0.4 of last season. As I mentioned earlier, Terry's defense was surprisingly solid last season, yet his defensive rating has fallen to 111 this season (if you aren't familiar with those kind of numbers, just know that they're bad). So yes, Terry has been pretty poor on defense this season, but after all he is 38 years old and honestly, it looks like he cares more on the court than other Rockets players at times.
So, what's the difference between Terry's role this season and last season? Playing time. Yes, just like several other Rockets rotational players (see: Thornton, Marcus) Terry doesn't consistently see the court as much as last year. Everyone knew Kevin McHale loved to play his veterans, but J.B. Bickerstaff doesn't use the same philosophy as much (he still doesn't just throw out the rookies or second year players though).
This season, Terry is only averaging 16.5 minutes per game, almost five fewer minutes than last season, when he averaged 21.3. Nowm this was expected coming in to the season as a result of the Rockets bringing in Ty Lawson, but Lawson's struggles have opened the door for more playing time for Terry recently. Terry has had eight DNPs this season, which is more than last year when he only missed or didn't play in five games.
However, it's time for Terry to play more often. Since December, the Rockets are 6-2 in games where Terry plays more than 15 minutes. He is a reliable veteran off the bench, a good three-point shooter, and can provide the leadership this team often seems to miss on the court when going through tough stretches.
Terry is shooting about 40 percent from deep since Dec. 1, something the Rockets could desperately use consistently off the bench. Plus, who wouldn't want to see more JET celebrations this season?