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Terry Rozier’s “Rocky” Start

Terry Rozier is the most polarizing player on the Hornets. I’ve never seen a player enter a new city and immediately be criticized the way that Rozier has through his first 14 games into his Charlotte Hornets career. Mainly, I believe it is because of *who* he is replacing. Before the season started, I laid out a preview into the Terry Rozier experience, and not to parade myself, but I nailed it. Every single aspect of it, the good and the bad.

A very short recap: Pros: athletic, push the pace, rebounder, can get to the rim, and is a willing passer. Cons: up in the air defensively, ineffective shooter, misses open players (especially PnR) despite his passing willingness*.

* Wasn’t mentioned directly, but it was a concern I was aware about.

However, something I did not anticipate was the amount of turnovers and foul trouble. Rozier is averaging three turnovers a game (4:3 AST/TO ratio). He has also been in foul trouble throughout multiple games this season. Since Rozier is a player that relies on rhythm and pace, him having to go to bench multiple times a game because of fouling certainly doesn’t help his strengths.

Something that makes Rozier even more polarizing throughout the Hornets fanbase is Devonte Graham, or rather, best player in the world Devonte Graham???? Listen, I’m going to say this, and you might not believe me, but the Hornets didn’t expect THIS from Graham. No one, not me, you, or the front office believed that Graham could take his big of a leap in an offseason where he saw very limited action the season before. DG started out the year the hottest player in the league, and this skewed perception entirely into “well, why did you sign Rozier if you had this?”

Now I have something that’s going to blow your mind… but no one is going to tell you this… Rozier and Graham have almost identical stats. Both are shooting 41% from the floor, both are averaging three turnovers, Terry is a better rebounder, and Graham is a better facilitator. Of course, the thing that has separated Graham from Rozier so far has been three point percentage. ‘D3vont3’ is shooting 41%, while Terry is shooting 36% (which is relatively average). Both are shooting 14 shots a game, with Devonte averaging 18 points per game and Rozier at 16.

Of course, stats only tell one side of the story. Just watching the games Graham looks smoother overall. We can attribute this to multiple reasons. First, this is Graham’s second year with James Borrego. Obviously, Rozier is entering a new situation. Along those same lines, chemistry with the other players. The Hornets brought back 11/15 players from last year’s team. Of course there is going to be a familiarity aspect into it.

I think the main idea that everybody is missing, regardless of how you view the current point guard situation in Charlotte is that James Borrego LOVES his dual point guard backcourt. Last year he had some combination of Walker/Parker/Graham on the floor during games, and this year it’s Graham and Rozier sharing the court together. The two have been on the court together for 235 minutes this season, which is about 1/3 of all game time. They are both averaging 32 minutes per game. Regardless of who you want to start, it doesn’t matter because the two will both see the floor a ton anyways. If giving Graham that “starter” title makes you feel better, then sure, but it’s worthless in Borrego’s system.

I write this as someone who is already genuinely exhausted of the comparisons because of preconceived notions that were developed either this offseason or *checks notes* 1/5 of the way through a season. That said, I’m not blind to it. If anything, I’m more frustrated than you at Rozier’s inconsistent play because of how I view him as a good player. I get mad at the turnovers, heat checks, fouls, just like all of you. But I promise that he is not playing as bad as people make him out to be playing as. I realize the reality of the situation: a new player, on a new team, “replacing” a franchise player, with a second year player performing out of his mind. Like Aaron Rodgers once said, “R-E-L-A-X.” We’re winning games, and Rozier hasn’t even begun to hit his stride.

PS: You all wanted the Hornets to tank, and now you’re mad that a player is allegedly playing poorly. So which one is it, because you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

PS2: If Rozier and Graham are putting up damn near equal numbers, then how is one good and one bad? Just something to think about….

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