Terry Rozier has been sensational during his two years in Charlotte. Yes, sensational.
Last year there were only six players in the NBA who averaged at least three 3-pointers, 20 points, four rebounds, and four assists per game: Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, Zach LaVine, Donovan Mitchell, Paul George, and Terry Rozier!
Back in 2019 a number of basketball pundits panned Charlotte for acquiring Rozier on a 3-year, $58 million contract. Fast forward two years and the Hornets have already locked him up on a 4-year, $97 million extension to keep him around through 2025-26. When news broke about Rozier’s new deal most NBA observers absorbed the news and concluded, “Huh. Makes sense.”
As good as Rozier was last year I’m already on the record stating I think he’ll be even better this year. At 27 he’s right in his prime and coming off career highs in points (20.4), assists (4.2), and true shooting percentage (.575). Last year he scored at a higher rate and with a higher efficiency than at any other point in his career. Playing alongside a dynamic distributor in LaMelo Ball is nirvana for a shooter like Terry. Gordon Hayward is also a good passer as is new arrival Mason Plumlee, so Rozier will continue to get his looks this year.
On the defensive side, Rozier plays bigger than his 6-foot-1 inches. What he lacks in height he makes up for with a 6-foot-8 wingspan, anticipation, and intensity. His Defensive Real Plus/Minus of 1.59 last year was 10th among all shooting guards and ahead of guys who are known for their defense like Kelly Oubre Jr (1.17), Eric Bledsoe (1.14), and Gary Harris (1.14). Rozier isn’t an impact player on defense, but he holds his own just fine.
Beyond the stats, Rozier has developed into the fiery leader of this team. Gordon Hayward might be a bigger name and LaMelo Ball might have more Instagram followers, but it was reportedly Terry who organized the offseason team workout in Miami and can be seen pushing his teammates. He’s got some alpha in him, some toughness. He’ll mentor younger players while challenging the veterans. Charlotte needs a credible, passionate leader, and it has become Terry Rozier.
Expect Terry to take another incremental step forward this year, both as a player and a leader. I think he can build on his 20.4 PPG scoring average from last year while scoring with high efficiency. There’s a lot of excitement surrounding this year’s Hornets team, and Rozier is one of the main reasons for it.