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Trending Hornets: Terry Rozier just keeps getting better

Charlotte’s sweet-shooting 28-year-old is right in the middle of his prime, and the advanced stats prove it.

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The Trending Hornets series evaluates the career trajectories of Charlotte’s players based on two advanced stats - Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) - as provided by Basketball Reference.

PER measures per-minute production standardized such as the league average is 15. A PER above 15 means a player contributed above league average. As a frame of reference, among last season’s PER leaders, the Top 20 players were 21.8 and higher while Nos. 21-40 ranged from 18.9 to 21.6.

VORP is a box score estimate of the points per 100 team possessions that a player contributed above a replacement level player. A VORP of 1.2 means the team was 1.2 points better off per 100 possessions with this player on the floor versus a league replacement-level player. Among last season’s VORP leaders, the Top 20 were 3.5 and higher and Nos. 21-40 ranged from 2.2 to 3.4.

This week we’ll look at the trajectory of Terry Rozier.

Mick Smiley, At the Hive

2021-22 results and league ranks

PER: 17.6; ranked 53rd overall

VORP: 2.3; ranked 39th overall

Career trend overview

Terry Rozier has had quite the journey throughout his seven-year career.

Originally drafted by the Boston Celtics as the No. 16 pick in the 2015 draft, his career got off to a slow start. Terry averaged just eight minutes over 39 games as a rookie and 17.1 minutes over 74 games the following year. Needless to say his advanced stats were generally below NBA averages to begin his career.

In his third season (2017-18) he showed promise by averaging a career-high 11.3 points in 25.9 minutes per game and saw both his PER (15.1) and VORP (2.1) rise to respectable levels. But Rozier couldn’t sustain the momentum the following season (2018-19) when he averaged just nine points over 22.7 minutes per game and saw his advanced stats decline in turn to ho-hum levels.

Then in July 2019 the Hornets acquired Rozier in a sign-and-trade with the Celtics for Kemba Walker. Charlotte gave Rozier a 3-year, $58 million contract, a chance to start, and an environment in which he could shine.

Terry Rozier has done just that - shine - since arriving in Charlotte.

This past year was the best season of his career, statistically speaking. His 17.6 PER and 2.3 VORP are the best he’s ever produced and when averaged out place him among the Top 50 players in the league. His continued improvement since arriving in Charlotte is a testament to his tenacity and work ethic, two attributes that are on display nearly every time he takes the court.

What this means for the Hornets

At 28 years old, Terry Rozier is in his prime and showing no signs of slowing down. While we’ve probably seen something close to Rozier’s ceiling at this point - about 20 points per game, over four assists, and hitting just below 40% of his 3-pointers - he’s the type of guard that can help a team like the Hornets return to the playoffs. What doesn’t show up in the stats is the impact of Rozier’s veteran leadership on a team with a host of young, inexperienced players.

Charlotte gave Terry a 4-year, $97 million extension in 2021 which should age just fine over the next couple of seasons. There aren’t a lot of players who replicate Rozier’s skill set. Last season only seven other players matched Rozier by averaging at least 19 points, 4.5 assists, and three made 3-pointers, and the list is impressive: Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Kyrie Irving, Donovan Mitchell, Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, and Fred VanVleet. That’s good company to keep. Few players can stretch defenses with his 3-point shot, score in a variety of ways, and facilitate for his teammates like Terry does.

Terry Rozier’s play and advanced stats continue to improve while thriving in Charlotte. Let’s hope the next couple of years of his prime will be spent leading the Hornets into meaningful postseason basketball.