Charlotte Hornets: Terry Rozier is worth every bit of $19 million

After being doubted to begin the season, Charlotte Hornets point guard Terry Rozier is proving to be worth his contract.

When the Charlotte Hornets agreed to give Terry Rozier a three-year, $56.7 million deal this past offseason, the move was widely criticized and viewed as yet another bad contract on the team’s resume. Much of the reason for this was due to the fact that Rozier had essentially been a career role-player throughout his first four years in the NBA. In fact, prior to this season he had averaged more than nine points per game just once in his career. He had never started more than 16 games in one season, and had never shot better than 40% across an entire campaign. It’s no wonder that Hornets fans were up in arms over the contract Rozier was given. Since the calendar turned to 2020, though, Rozier has done nothing but prove us wrong.

Rozier put his talents on display once again on Tuesday night, putting up one of the best performances of his career.

For the fourth time this season, Rozier put up at least 30 points on Tuesday night. The Charlotte point guard finished the night with 30 points on 9-of-17 shooting, including four made threes. He also added a season-high 10 rebounds and an assist in a 97-92 victory over the New York Knicks. After the Hornets were down by as many as 13 in the first half, it was Rozier that helped turn the tide and bring an end to Charlotte’s eight-game losing streak. 11 of his 30 points came in the final four minutes of the game, as he remains among the best in the league in terms of clutch scoring.

Since the start of the new year, Rozier has been one of the best guards in the league, and has outperformed some high-profile names.

Prior to the new year, Rozier had been perhaps a second-fiddle to Devonte’ Graham. While Graham was busy shocking the NBA world with his high-flying three-point shooting and his exceptional assist numbers, Rozier worked in the shadows, quietly putting up a respectable season that most probably didn’t expect. Since the start of January, though, the former Celtic has been the star of the show. In 11 games, Rozier is averaging almost 22 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game.

The 25-year-old isn’t putting up James Harden-type stats, but he is in fact outperforming several high-profile guards. So far in 2020 Rozier is scoring at the same rate as Kemba Walker, Ben Simmons, and Lou Williams. He’s outrebounding the likes of Damian Lillard, Devin Booker, and Kyle Lowry. On top of that he’s putting up the same number of assists as Walker, and is besting Donovan Mitchell, Eric Bledsoe, and Jamal Murray.

To make his production even more impressive, Rozier is shooting a better three-point clip than CJ McCollum, Seth Curry, and D’Angelo Russell. As you can tell, Rozier is having himself an impressive month, and to be honest, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. He was playing almost as well before the new year; however, since then he has upped his game from being “good” to being borderline All-Star worthy.

All of the names above have had solid to great NBA careers. That being said, there are two huge differences in Rozier and the players above.

The first major difference in Rozier and the stars above is the team market. Most, if not all, of those players are competing in “basketball” cities. Charlotte is certainly on the rise in terms of becoming a sports city, but it doesn’t receive anywhere near the attention as Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, or Golden State. Because of that, Rozier doesn’t typically get the same recognition as do stars from other teams. Walker’s transition from Charlotte to Boston is the perfect example of that–he went from being a local superstar and a player thought by most to be “good” to becoming a national star and highly-coveted player across the league.

As far as money goes, all of the players mentioned who are on their second or third NBA deals–aside from Curry–are making far-and-away more than Rozier. Players still on rookie deals, such as Mitchell, Murray, and Simmons, are going to be among the highest-paid players in the league in the next year or two. Rozier is currently just the 23rd-highest paid guard, and is slated to rank 29th next year, and will make even less the season after. With that being said, what seemed to be a terrible contract situation for Rozier and the Hornets has actually turned out to be a bit of a steal.

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