Tipoff is drawing near for the Charlotte Hornets and excitement is running high to see what star point guard LaMelo Ball is capable of in his third season with the team.
Ball predictably found himself squarely within ESPN’s recent NBArank 2022, which projected him as being the 41st-best player in the association this season. This places Ball one spot above Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray and one spot beneath New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson and seems to be a fair assessment as Ball enters year three. It is worth mentioning that ESPN NBA Reporter Nick Friedell articulated the path for Ball to outperform his ranking this season, as the mixture of Ball’s confidence and an increased responsibility within the team Hierarchy could vault him further up the rankings.
However, Ball is the Lone Hornet represented in the rankings, meaning that the Charlotte Hornets join the Houston Rockets and the Orlando Magic with a Sole representative in the rankings. The San Antonio Spurs were the Lone team not to have a player listed in the Top 100.
This represents a stark contrast from the 2021 version of the NBArank, when the Charlotte Hornets had four players in the Top 100. All of Miles Bridges (87), Terry Rozier (81), Gordon Hayward (58), and LaMelo Ball (47 ) were listed in the 2021 version of the rankings.
Bridges is certainly being left off the current list because of his ongoing legal situation. With his case still unfolding and his playing status uncertain, any list aiming to project performance in 2022-23 is wise to exclude Bridges.
Hayward’s absence likely revolves around the continued uncertainty surrounding his durability. Some amount of absence is accounted for in any projection of his performance this season, although in a vacuum he is still one of the 100 best players in the league.
Rozier’s omission is the most glaring, as there is no concrete reason for him to be entirely removed from the list. His scoring did take a slight dip with a decrease in usage last season, but overall, it was another strong season from the Charlotte Hornets’ starting shooting guard.
A fall in the rankings would not be unreasonable. Other players have improved, and with Rozier firmly in his prime years, it is unlikely that he will radically evolve as a player at any point in the future. With that said, the inclusion of multiple bench players (Bogdan Bogdanovic, Grant Williams), Rookies (Keegan Murray), and more limited players at his own position (Seth Curry) is selling Rozier short.
While it is acknowledged that the list is a projection for future performance, there is no reason to expect a drastic fall in Rozier’s production; if anything, they may have more opportunities with the expected absence of Bridges opening more scoring responsibilities for the rest of the roster.
Unlike with Hayward, there should be no expectations of an extended absence from Rozier. He has missed just 14 games in three seasons with the Charlotte Hornets, notably battling back from an ankle injury that cost him five games last season before missing four games after entering health and safety protocols.
ESPN’s NBArank proves that Terry Rozier is underrated outside of the Charlotte Hornets fanbase
After a season in which he posted 19.3 points and 4.5 assists on above average efficiency and with the best assist-to-turnover ratio on the team, Rozier deserves to be somewhere within the ranking of the Top 100 players for this season. While he is far from a perfect player, the circumstances have not changed enough to warrant a fall from 81st in the 2021 NBArank to being omitted from this year’s version.