Terry Rozier’s Sharp-Shooting Rise; “Nobody’s Worked Harder in the Offseason”

by Sam Perley

Terry Rozier has now made 91 appearances in a Hornets uniform and at the moment, is performing at the absolute highest level he ever has as a professional player. It’s been a rather remarkable progression for Rozier and one that’s required countless hours of hard work, sacrifice and dedication both on and off the court.

From the day Rozier walked into the Charlotte organization, he dismissed any notion that he was going to be Kemba Walker’s replacement, an easy linkage after the two were swapped for each other in a sign-and-trade deal with Boston back in July of 2019. Rozier has always insisted he’s going to strive to be the best version of himself and a season-and-a-half later, his play has certainly backed up that stance.

Over his last five games, the sixth-year guard is averaging 31 points on 58% shooting and 54% from three, a stretch highlighted by a 20-point fourth quarter and his first career game-winning buzzer-beater against the Warriors last Saturday night. On top of the personal best 20.8 points per game he’s averaging overall this season, Rozier’s drained an NBA-leading 31-of-62 fourth-quarter three-point shots, good for a superb 50% conversion rate.

A career 38% shooter and 35% from three over his first four seasons in Boston, Rozier shot 42% and 41% from these two areas, respectively, in 63 outings last year. Right now, he’s connecting on just under 50% of his shot attempts and is knocking down 45% of his nearly eight three-point tries per game, a mark that currently ranks 13th in the NBA.

“His maturity, his growth, his confidence is extremely high and you’re a product of your work,” stated Hornets Head Coach James Borrego. “I say that to our guys all the time – you’re a product of your work. Nobody’s worked harder in the offseason. What you’re seeing before your eyes, he deserves this. He put in the work, the time and you’re seeing the fruits of that right now.”

Perhaps all the more impressive is how well Rozier has played this season despite the Hornets going nine months without playing a competitive game following the pandemic suspension last March. “I stayed patient, stayed confident over that long period of time,” said Rozier, who has been training in Miami during the offseason since before he was drafted in 2015. “Every summer, I put a lot of work in – like a lot. When I’m up here, I look at it like I’m just working out and my teammates do a great job allowing me to be successful.”

“I’ve known that he can score for a long time after playing with him in Boston and seeing him in practice and stuff,” added Gordon Hayward, who was a Celtic teammate of Rozier’s from 2017-19. “I think this year, he’s shooting the ball, especially these last four or five games, at an unbelievable clip – spot-ups, off the dribble, off the move spot-ups. When you’re shooting it like that and can also drive and make plays happen at the rim, you’re really tough to guard.”

Where Rozier continues to be at his best is in catch-and-shoot situations. Amongst players with at least four such three-point attempts this season, the Louisville product ranks fourth in efficiency (50.0%), behind only Brooklyn’s Joe Harris and the LA Clippers’ Marcus Morris Sr. and Paul George. Rozier finished the 2019-20 campaign with a 46% conversion rate on 3.7 attempts per game in his category.

Registering about one drive to the hoop less per game this season, Rozier’s field-goal percentage when engaging in this particular action has skyrocketed from 41% to over 54% on more than four attempts per contest. And his pull-up shooting has also jumped from 36% and 34% from the field and three-point range, respectively, to 48% and 37% in 2020-21.

But perhaps Rozier’s greatest value to the Hornets has been something a bit less quantifiable than box score numbers and X’s and O’s. Charlotte ranks as one of the NBA’s best teams in clutch-time situations this season and a major reason why has been Rozier’s leadership and relentless ability to step in a big way when the game is on the line.

“More than anything, it’s his winning spirit, a winning mentality, never-give-in [attitude],” said Borrego following the win over Golden State. “That’s as simple as I can put it. He’s been fantastic. His will throughout games and fourth quarters just to keep us alive and to actually throw in daggers to help us win games is tremendous on his part. He gives us a tremendous amount of confidence and willed us to another victory.”

“He’s fun to play with and he competes hard every night,” added Cody Zeller. “Not just on game night, but at practices and everything else. He’s a guy that you can count on to be out there competing. Obviously, his three-point shooting, when he gets hot, he gets really hot. But what I appreciate about him is him picking up full court, him battling for rebounds with the big guys. He’s just a hard-nosed player and it makes it a lot of fun to play with him.”

The Hornets just kicked off a tough six-game road stretch with a 22-point loss to the powerhouse Utah Jazz on Monday night, an outing in which Rozier finished with a relatively quiet 12 points. And while the roster is dealing with a few absences related to both Health and Safety Protocols and injuries, the Hornets have just the right guy in place to lead them through these final five games of the first-half schedule.


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