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2020-21 Hornets season preview: Terry Rozier

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The Hayward connection, his fit in Charlotte, and why Rozier is poised to have a great year in Buzz City

Houston Rockets v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

Traveling back to a year and a half ago, Hornets fans wallowed in despair when the franchise’s leading scorer Kemba Walker left for Boston. It was the beginning of a new era in Charlotte as the team entered rebuild mode. However, this heartbreaking departure wasn’t a complete loss as it saw Terry Rozier join the Hornets.

While the initial response to Rozier may have been labeling him as a last-ditch effort to get something out of losing Walker, he turned out to be a solid player for the Hornets. Now, he’s gearing up for his sixth season in the NBA and what could turn out to be his most productive one yet.

People seem to forget just how good Rozier can be. The peak of his career thus far came when he helped lead the short-handed Celtics to an Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 2018 as the starting point guard. In that playoff run he averaged 16.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.7 assists a night. That was also the year he crossed up Eric Bledsoe into oblivion, a moment that all Rozier fans should love to watch on repeat.

While he took a step back in the 2018-19 season due to the return of Kyrie Irving and some team chemistry issues, moving to Charlotte finally gave him his chance to shine. This past year Rozier averaged 18.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4.1 assists a night, and did so while shooting 42.3% from the field and 40.7% from three (both career highs). He ended up starting every game for the Hornets, after only starting 30 total games during his four year tenure in Boston, delivering the best year of his career by far.

Now, what makes this upcoming year even more interesting is the talent that will be surrounding Rozier. He spent a full season (2018-19) playing with Gordon Hayward in Boston, and it was great for him. When on the court with Hayward his offensive rating was 110.1, but when Rozier was on the floor without Hayward, that number dipped down to 104.5. An offensive rating of 110.1 would be a career high for Rozier, so playing with Hayward again should definitely help out his offensive game.

Aside from just Hayward, Rozier also stands to benefit from the addition of LaMelo Ball. Head coach James Borrego described Ball in an interview as a “top-tier playmaker” that “can make plays for others.” This is perfect for Rozier as last season he ranked 11th in the league in catch and shoot three-point percentage (45.9%) amongst those who attempted at least three a game. With the offense running through Ball, Rozier’s catch and shoot attempts should see an increase, thus improving his offensive game overall.

While there seems to be a general consensus that Rozier might be gone by the trade deadline, the smart move may just be to keep him. With the primary concern being to build around Ball, the first priority should be defense, but right after that should be shooting. As mentioned before, Rozier is an elite catch and shoot three-point shooter, so why trade him?

Regardless of his production, there is still one looming question concerning Rozier - will he start? In order to fully consider that question, one must look back at his years in Boston. In the 2018-19 season Rozier played in 79 games, starting 14 and coming off the bench in 65. Here are his stats in those games:

Starting: 13.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.2 BPG, 42.9% FG, 40.5% 3PT

Bench: 8.1 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 37.5% FG, 33.7% 3PT

This trend can be seen all throughout his career, and a large reason Rozier has thrived in Charlotte is because the team has trusted him to start. Now obviously starting Ball at point guard is a necessity, but playing Rozier at the two should be strongly considered if the Hornets want to see the same production they did from him last year

The final thing to note about Rozier going into this season is that despite being the fifth oldest guy on the team, he’s still only 25 years old. There is plenty of time left for him to develop, and aside from a down year plagued with internal issues (2018-19) in Boston, he has steadily improved every single season of his career. Disregarding that season, Rozier’s points per game, field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and assist numbers have gone up every year he’s been in the league.

The Hornets’ roster is built not only for the future, but to compete for a playoff spot right now. Whether you think he should be traded or not, Rozier is a valuable asset to this team. He’s a great shooter and fits in perfectly with what the Hornets are doing. Everything points to a great season from Scary Terry this year.