Following an atypical start to the season, guard Terry Rozier predictably began heating up as the Charlotte Hornets’ schedule progressed, reinforcing his reputation as one of the NBA’s premier 3-point shooters and all-around competitors.
The now seven-year veteran finished his third campaign in Buzz City by averaging 19.3 points on 44.4% shooting – the second-best mark of his career – 4.3 rebounds and personal bests in assists (4.5), steals (1.3) and 2-point percentage (51.6%) over 73 appearances. He matched his career high of 222 3-pointers set last year (in just four more appearances), which is the fifth-highest total in franchise history and 12th most overall in the NBA this season.
“A lot of good memories,” said Rozier during exit interviews. “Fun season, great locker room, great group of guys. Just reflecting on all the good. Obviously, it didn’t end like we wanted. We should have been a better seed, but the East just got better. So, know we have to continue to get better. This is a new time where people grow. When I reflect on the season, I only reflect on the good stuff, good memories and none of the bad that comes with it.”
Rozier missed five of the team’s first six outings to start the year thanks to a pair of ankle sprains, then put up 15.4 points on 39% shooting and 26% from deep in 12 games from Oct. 31 to Nov. 20. A 32-point showing in Washington on Nov. 22 which featured a season-high eight 3-pointers got things pointed in the right direction and Rozier never really looked back.
Other statistical happenings of note for Rozier this season included a team-high-tying nine 30-point games, his second career triple-double on Feb. 11 in Detroit and a career-high-tying 3.40 assist-to-turnover ratio, a mark that was 10th in the NBA amongst players with at least 65 games played. He also rocketed up the franchise’s all-time 3-point field goal leaderboard, where he currently sits in fourth with 616.
While he’s more than exceeded expectations since arriving from Boston almost three years ago, Rozier is unwavering in his desire to get the Hornets back to the playoffs. Having appeared in 50 postseason games in his career, he’s been adamant about the impact that this particular environment could have on the team’s younger core.
“I wanted to be in the playoffs and have guys like Miles Bridges or LaMelo in a series for the first time,” said Rozier. “I really wanted that for my younger brothers and for a lot of other guys in the locker room to experience that for the first time. Have that hunger just to know [what it’s like], have that foot in the door. We will experience it, they will experience it, but I just wanted that for them more than anything.”
A second straight loss in the NBA Play-In Game tournament certainly served as another bitter ending to an overall encouraging season for the Hornets. Many players will probably use it as motivation again moving forward, but Rozier says an outcome like this more or less has no bearing on his offseason mentality.
“I’ve got fuel regardless because that’s the time to get better,” he said. “That’s my time where I can reflect and take time for myself. I don’t really worry about one game and having to have a message for myself. I’m self-motivated regardless. I like the summers. It’s always just tough at the beginning because I’m a competitor and I want to play. I barely watch [playoff] basketball because I don’t want to see that if I’m not playing. Over time, things get better.”
A consistent, high-level producer over the past three years, Rozier embodies the heart and soul of this Hornets team. Ferociously competitive and an exemplary worker, the future is bright for the organization with leaders like Terry Rozier at the helm.
“We’re just going to continue to grow,” he said. “I need to make sure that I come back a better leader. There were a lot of ups and downs this season, but everybody goes through ups and downs. I’m not really dwelling on the past. We’re going to be together this summer and we’re going to figure it out. Once that time comes in October, we’ll be ready to suit up again.”