The Toronto Raptors placed a lot of responsibilities on the shoulders of two NBA rookies last season, Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross [Yes, I know Quincy Acy was a rookie as well, but he's for another post, and did not have the same degree of expectations.] I see no need to write a “Stay or Go?” for JV, as anyone who wants to move that guy should be banished from the ranks of Raptors fandom. However, Terrence’s season was less successful, and I see his name pop up in trade scenarios, often yoked with Andrea Bargnani as Raps fans try to throw the Italian overboard.
Terrence is a 22-year-old shooting guard, a slightly shorter but more athletically blessed version of DeMar DeRozan. He gained global recognition by winning the NBA All-Star Weekend Dunk Contest, which was a thrill for all of us, but added precisely zero wins to the Raps’ team total. Gifted athletes, oddly enough, pose a significant challenge for coaches. (As the always-pithy Sam Mitchell once said “Potential gets coaches fired”. Remember Joey Graham?) Turning obvious natural ability into tangible results is not like flipping a switch, for either player or coach. I suspect Terrence never knew how deficient his game was until he hit the NBA. I don’t mean to insult his intelligence by that statement (for the record, he appears a bright, well-spoken young man). However, carving up Northwestern for 32 points, as he did in one of his last collegiate games, isn’t quite the same as getting shots off against LeBron James. A scan of his University of Washington stats shows him taking a considerable proportion of field-goal attempts from beyond the arc. The NBA’s three-point line is 23 feet from the basket, which is 3 feet further than the NCAA one. For a 3-point shooter like Terrence, that’s a huge adjustment, but he still managed a rookie-respectable 33.2% from distance. I also wonder whether he’s ever had to truly study, and put into play, sound defense. He needs a ton of work on “the other side of the ball”.
All of his deficiencies noted, there remains a lot to like about Terrence Ross. I’d rather have a player with a high athletic ceiling than otherwise, particularly if he is willing to learn. The Raps were criticized for “reaching” because Terrence was expected to be on the draft board in the mid-teens, but Bryan Colangelo took the plunge, and the criticism. Jonas was a surprise pick the previous season, and he’s turned out well, to put it mildly. Masai Ujiri, we’re real short of players with All-Star potential. Please don’t initiate any calls to trade Terrence, and don’t throw him in as part of a Bargnani deal. Terrence is a keeper, and I expect him to make a significant jump in production next season.
Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.