The consensus of opinion about Terrence Ross’ summer league results was not positive. Most analysts thought he was lacklustre, and showed no signs of making the leap in production the Toronto Raptors need from him in his sophomore NBA season. Masai Ujiri believes TR needs to be aggressive in attacking the basket, rather than settling for jump shots.
I don’t know quite what to make of this point of view. To me, it’s similar to criticizing an orange for not being an apple. TR was drafted ahead of Andre Drummond (a decision which may haunt our team for years) because he was considered an outside shooter on a team in desperate need of one. (20-second timeout: Commenters…I’m not taking a position here on the “best player available” vs. “team need” debate, but you are welcome to. Let’s hope that Colangelo thought that by drafting Ross he was doing both. Drummond supposedly flunked his Raptor interview, but his erratic reputation didn’t deter the Pistons, and Andre was an excellent rookie.)
If TR is ever to become a complete player, he’ll need to know when to shoot, and when to take it to the hoop – that’s not in question. But I squirm when I get the feeling that a player is being asked to move on from his current stage of development when he hasn’t mastered it. TR’s shot was wildly erratic last season. While his arc is a thing of beauty upon release, his set-up, particularly his footwork, is concerning. He needs further schooling, and tons of repetition once his form has been corrected. TR needs to establish his jumper as a threat to set up his drives, otherwise his defender will play him “loose”, which makes driving exceedingly difficult.
And speaking of defense – TR is hardly a finished product there either. There’s only so much change a human brain, even the brightest, can absorb. Push him to be a better defender (a hugely difficult task at the NBA level) and improve his jump shot. That’s enough. Incremental improvement builds confidence with both the player and his coach.
I liked the way TR interacted with Dwane Casey last season. Coach didn’t yank him from the game every time he made an error, particularly on D. Everyone – the GM, coach, and fans – will need to be patient with TR. I think he’s a rare talent, and will reward us all in time.
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.