After a bit of a disappointing 2022-2023 season for him, many fans had Terry Rozier included in their trade machines in the event the Hornets could land a marquee-free agent. However, in the last few weeks, he's shown his extreme value to the team with star Lamelo Ball sidelined with a sprained ankle.
Amidst the adversity to start the season, Rozier has been a silver lining alongside rookie standout Brandon Miller. Despite the loss, Rozier accounted for thirty-four points against the Miami Heat on Monday night. In the Hornets win over the Brooklyn Nets in late November, "Scary Terry" had thirty-seven points. He added twenty-one in the Hornets victory over the Toronto Raptors. This included a clutch three late in the fourth after the Raptors had clawed their way back.
While the scoring is needed, the most important attribute Rozier is bringing right now is arguably his passing. The Hornets are at their best when they are unselfish and spread the ball around a lot. There is a stark difference in their wins and losses in this department. With Ball out, Rozier has become the primary ball-handler. He's racked up thirteen assists in each of the last two games. According to Statmuse, he has averaged 10.6 assists in his last five games overall.
Rozier is in his ninth NBA season and provides some valuable experience for a team among the youngest in the league.One of the biggest criticisms of the Hornets the last few years has been their lack of leadership and off the court issues. Rozier is likely their best leader, bringing more of what fans had hoped fellow vet Gordan Hayward would bring. He's held off-season workouts with his teammates in each of the last few seasons.
It is important to note that some of the streakiness of Rozier's play in the past has been due to his own injury troubles. Last season, he had a hip injury that held him out of several games, and later that year, he hurt his hand. This season he has missed more than eight games with a groin injury, which has been aggravating him. The Hornets haven't had much luck in sustaining a healthy roster the last few seasons and this is a trend that is continuing this year. At the end of the day, a now healthy Rozier is one of the team's most invaluable players, especially with other key players out of the line-up.
Direction of the Franchise
The biggest arguments for moving on from Rozier have been that the team needed to enter into a full rebuild (instead of quasi-rebuild) and that they needed to trade for a star to build around Ball and Miller. While those are all fair arguments, Rozier is not the player to move in that scenario unless they have to. There are likely far more expendable pieces. The Hornets have shown interest in Bulls star Zach Lavine. Bulls columnist Sam Smith outlined an example of what the trade could look like.