Terry Rozier Credits Teammates, Coaches for Assisting with Another Career Year

by Sam Perley

Guard Terry Rozier’s first go-around with the Charlotte Hornets in 2019-20 following four seasons with Boston certainly fell into the break-out category. And despite an unpredictable follow-up campaign in Buzz City filled with plenty of uncertainty and craziness, this year’s version of Rozier turned out to be even better than before.

The team leader with 69 overall appearances, Rozier closed things out with career highs in scoring (20.4 points), field-goal percentage (45.0%), assists (4.2), steals (1.3) and total three-point field goals (222), the last of which is now the franchise’s fifth-highest single-season total even amidst an abbreviated 72-game schedule.

“I had a lot of fun,” Rozier said during exit interviews. “It’s been a long season and different than the usual. There’s a lot of promising things that we’ve shown and seen. We’re only looking to grow and get better as a whole. Ending the season how we ended it with six straight losses is never fun, but we’re building something and we’re looking forward to what’s ahead. I’m happy to be here. I like this organization a lot and I love this city a lot. I’m just looking to grow and get better with my guys around me.”

Amongst the most noteworthy outings by Rozier this season included a then-career high 42 points in Cleveland on Dec. 23, a performance that featured an NBA Opening Night-record 10 three-pointers. He also had a 41-point showing against Minnesota on Feb. 12, hit his first game-winning buzzer-beater two nights later versus Golden State, reset his career high by dropping 43 points on New Orleans on May 9 and finished the season with a personal-best five double-doubles.

But undoubtedly the area where Rozier shined the brightest was whenever the game was on the line in the closing minutes, regularly turning clutch time into ‘Terry Time.’ His 14 three-pointers during these particular situations ranked fourth in the NBA behind only Damian Lillard, Steph Curry and Karl-Anthony Towns, while his field-goal (50.0%) and three-point percentages (45.2%) were seventh (mini. 50 FGA) and fifth (mini. 20 3PA), respectively.

As the season wore on and injuries began piling up for the Hornets, Rozier was unsurprisingly confronted with increased defensive attention from opposing teams. It was both a testament to the significant growth he’s made as a player and an indicator that he’ll need to raise his game to an even higher level in order to counteract his rightful status on the scouting report.

“My trainer and I started talking right away and we knew there’s just more work that we have to do,” he said. “Just get back in this summer, we adjust and go and get better. There’s nothing else to it. That’s my mindset every offseason – how can I get better? I’m willing to take those steps and it’s only up from here. It’s only going to get better.”

Areas that stood for Rozier this year included an ability to play high-level extended stretches on and off the ball, his catch-and-shoot three-point game (43.3%), pull-up shooting – particularly in the mid-range – finishing at the rim, rebounding and overall playmaking. Having now completed his second of two consecutive stellar seasons in Charlotte, Rozier was quick to credit his teammates and coaches for allotting him the opportunity to play his style of basketball.

“I want to get everything I can out of this [sport], so when I’m done with this game, I can be happy with myself. I play with a lot of passion and attitude. When I’m out there on the court, I might not look the happiest, but that’s just who I am. It allows me to be me. I just thank my teammates and coaches. They helped me this whole season and allowed me to be me. I didn’t have to be less than myself to become that.”

Rozier added, “I know I’m kind of different than a lot of people. I just appreciate [Coach Borrego] for sticking with me and just grinding this whole season out with me. I don’t know where my biggest growth this season came from, but I know I’m willing to get better and know I’m going to get better. This offseason, this summer is very important.”

The now 27-year-old guard took on increased leadership role this year and as the team’s most reliable player when it came to production and availability, did an admirable job in setting the tone for one of the youngest rosters in the NBA. The foundation for the improvements Rozier has made in recent years come from the immense amount of work he’s done in the offseason and he appears to already have his sights set on getting right back to it.

“Personally, [the summer time] is where people are made,” he stated. “This is what I love – getting into grind mode. It makes me appreciate basketball even more. I’m going to take some time off, clear my mind, clear my body. When it’s time to get to work, it’s time to get to work.”

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