So there we were, several thousand of us irrational fans (a tautology, I know) watching an over-sized TV outside the ACC, in the paddock created by a dead end street and some portable cattle-pen fences. All of us were ready to cheer for Austin Rivers. We had already experienced the disappointment of losing Harrison Barnes on the previous selection (curse you, Golden State), but Coach Doc’s son would be much more than a consolation prize. Then, through the booing from Newark, we heard the Commish say “…Toronto Raptors select Terrence Ross” – and every Raps season seat holder said as one voice “WHO?”.
Hence, a damp squib, which is a marvelous British term derived from failed ordnance. In cartoons, it’s the gun that, when fired, emits not a bullet, but a stick, holding a flag emblazoned BANG. That’s the feeling we had. But is it valid? Did Colangelo take a mighty swing, and hit air?
Most mock drafts had Ross in the mid-teens. From what little I’ve learned about him, he’s a skinny jump shooter who actually plays defence. College-ball-savvy commentators say Ross is a solid pick, who didn’t get sufficient publicity because he played at Washington. So let’s assume young Terrence has a strong camp, and makes the team. Sonny Weems has been offered a contract to return from the European hinterland. I’m not a huge Sonny fan; I used to call him the Designated Turnover, but we can hope he’s curbed his worst tendencies. Jerryd has a fresh offer. All of a sudden we’ve got a lot of guys who can play 2 or 3 (or 1, in Bayless’ case). We should be able to play small effectively, which is of growing importance in today’s NBA. The game more and more rewards speed, and Terrence Ross is a mid-size sprinter who should love to play in overdrive.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. I’m not predicting Rookie of the Year for this guy (although I’d be disappointed if Jonas V isn’t in that conversation by year-end). But picking Ross didn’t add to the logjam in the front court. Another runner/gunner can’t hurt, if he’s under control. All of this press-release sunshine, however, can’t obscure one simple fact: another trip to the draft lottery dooms Young Master Colangelo.