Brian Roberts' signing was met with little fanfare during the offseason — more 'wait, there's a basketball player named Brian Roberts?'
It seems only apropos that I am writing his season review, since I also ended up writing his season preview and gave him the nickname 'Kemba Light'.
As such, I feel as qualified as anyone to say that Roberts' 2014-15 season was a failure. Shocker, I know. Someone on the Charlotte Hornets had a bad season. But if you allow me to explain and dive deeper, I can tell you exactly why this year was one to forget for the guard.
By pretty much any statistic or metric you want to measure it by, last season was a down year for Brian Roberts.
He attempted and made fewer shots than ever before in his (albeit short) NBA career, setting career-lows in field goal percentage (38.9 percent), three-point percentage (32.1 percent, and this is despite Roberts taking 42.7 percent of his shots as threes, a new career-high. For comparison's sake, 30.6 percent of his shots last year were threes.), free throw percentage (after leading the league last year shooting 94 percent, he shot 89.2 percent this year), PER (11.7), Offensive Win Shares (0.6 after rating 2.0 in his first two seasons) and true shooting percentage (49.5 percent).
He played 40 percent of the team's overall minutes, but never developed into the backup scorer the team hoped he would become. He averaged more than eight points per game in just two of the season's seven months (February and April). He set career-lows in assists per game (6.3), assist percentage (20.3),
Basically, this year was not good.
On the bright side, he did improve on defense, though it wasn't exactly much of an improvement. After having Defensive Win Shares of 0.2 his first two seasons, Roberts finished 2014-2015 with a DWS of 1.2, a large chunk of his 1.8 Win Shares rating. He also set a new career-high in turnover percentage (10.5) and his assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.8 was 24th-best in the NBA, and Roberts featured in two of the team's top three five-man units in terms of plus-minus.
So there's that.
The bad news: As you can tell, any growth that Brian Roberts made during the 2014-15 campaign was negative. He stopped taking as many shots close to the basket and replaced those shots with deep shot attempts, mostly threes. After shooting 16.6 and 15.8 percent of his shots three to ten feet from the hoop in his first two seasons, only 8.4 percent of his shots last year came from that same range.
Author's Note: I have a feeling this will become a common trend throughout these player report cards.
The good news: he has nowhere to go but up in most shooting statistics, should his first two years in the Association and college numbers say anything. With a full year in Coach Clifford's system and a year with his teammates, one would expect to see a better Brian Roberts for the 2015-2016 season.
Brian Roberts' top play from last season isn't so much a play as a moment. My vote is when he scored a career-high 23 points and singlehandedly kept the Hornets in the game in the home finale against the Houston Beards...I mean Rockets.
Roberts was never very active on social media, so it is hard to judge what exactly he did off the court. He was one of the nicer players when it came to talking to the media though.
Brian Roberts has one year left on his contract and his role with the team depends on what happens with Mo Williams. If Williams stays, Roberts would most likely be the third point guard and be used similar to how he was during the second half of the season — more to allow Kemba Walker and Williams to catch a breather every now and then. If Williams leaves, then one would expect Roberts to retain the top backup position he held prior to the trade for Williams.
Regardless, it would be a surprise to see Roberts suiting up in anything other than purple and teal come the start of next year. Hornets fans can look forward to at least one more year of Kemba Light.
Stats from NBA.com, 82games.com and Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.