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2016-17 Player Preview: Brian Roberts

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Toronto Raptors Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

2015-16 Season Stats (w/ CHA): 11.1 mpg, 4.8 ppg, 1.3 apg, 44.3 FG%, 33.3 3P%

Brian Roberts is technically a new signing, but it’s hard to view him that way since he spent most of last season with the Charlotte Hornets. Part of the three-team trade that brought Courtney Lee to Charlotte, Roberts was quickly dealt again to the Portland Trailblazers, where he was part of a roster that won their opening playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Becoming a free agent this summer, the Hornets decided to bring Roberts back on a one-year deal.

Last season, Roberts featured in 30 games with the Hornets, averaging 4.8 points, and 1.3 assists in 11.1 minutes per game.

He possesses a good mid-range jumpshot, and he’s a decent shooter from beyond the arc. Defensively he’s a bit of a liability, but he’s quick enough that he at least contain defenders.

Roberts typically played at the end of games, when the game had already been decided. Occasionally he was asked to play significant minutes, but only when another guard was out due to injury. His role had largely diminished from the season before, when he was the team’s primary backup point guard. With last season’s addition of Jeremy Lin, Roberts became the third point guard.

His role should largely be unchanged from a season ago. Roberts was brought back to be the team’s third point guard, adding insurance to a back-court that is made up of last season’s leading scorer Kemba Walker, and journeyman Ramon Sessions, also in his second stint with the team.

Released just today, Roberts spoke about his return to Charlotte via the team’s official site. Speaking about his role, Roberts noted that both he and the team understand what his role is, which as Roberts puts it, is, “to be ready whenever my number is called, to help in a leadership role, and help vocally.”

Clearly, Roberts is comfortable as the team’s third point guard. His time as the Hornets primary backup came with mixed results, and it was clear heading into the 2015-16 season that Charlotte needed to upgrade the position (hence the Lin signing).

Roberts has value as the third point guard, and his return maintains much of the depth the team had last season at the position. If called upon during a game for any reason, Roberts has the experience to run and manage the Hornets offense, and there will be no learning curve since he’s played for Steve Clifford already.

His return, while more a footnote for the team this summer, speaks well for both him and the team. It’s rare that a player traded away is brought back immediately the following summer, so to see the team re-sign him, and Roberts agree to come back is a another positive sign, at least for me. Considering there was a time not too long ago when players likely welcomed leaving Charlotte, seeing players return, even in small roles, shows the progress the franchise has been made.