Terrence Ross – in focus


Terrence Ross, who the Toronto Raptors drafted ahead of such impressive rookies as Andre Drummond, enters his sophomore season with our club. Writing about how he might play is as tricky, and as likely to be way-wrong, as my speculation on Landry Fields. Nevertheless, I’ll give it a go.

November 23, 2012; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (1) is defended by shooting guard Terrence Ross (31) and Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) in the fourth quarter at The Palace. Detroit won 91-90. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Terrence is a true swingman, meaning he can play small forward or shooting guard. While he’s not overly tall by NBA standards at 6’6″, his remarkable leaping ability allows him to play above the rim. It also allows him to unleash his high-arcing jump shot over many a frustrated defender. However, his jumper, while technically sound, doesn’t find the bottom of the basket often enough. His shooting percentage from 3-point land was 33.2, which has to be seen as a mild disappointment. So does 2 rebounds per game. Coach Dwane Casey, perhaps in an attempt to turn up the heat under Terrence, praised his young player’s athletic ability, but also made it clear that raw gifts alone won’t provide TR the playing minutes he undoubtedly craves. Casey needs evidence of TR’s mental growth and understanding of the game. TR has a tendency to forget about his teammates once he’s got the ball, and that’s got to change. He’ll be on the floor with veteran finishers like Rudy Gay, and Jonas Valanciunas can also score. Terrence will need to “find” those guys and others when he’s going to the hoop (another thing he didn’t do enough of last year).

TR has a considerable distance to travel in his defensive game. He came out of a university, namely Washington, in which opponents weren’t likely to blow past him, or have the hops to shoot over him. I’m sure his rookie pro season was a huge bucket of cold water in the face. In the NBA, almost every opposing player could (and did!) do such indignities to him.  Making the split-second adjustments needed to contain the world’s top players is no mean feat, and we will be watching to see how he develops.

Terrence became a minor celebrity when he captured the Slam Dunk Championship at the All-Star Game in February. While that was lots of fun, it added precisely zero wins to the Raps’ season total. I mention the triumph(?) because it brings into sharp focus the dichotomy between TR’s raw athleticism, which is off the charts, and his modest accomplishments as a player. The Raps have had several athletes over the years, the last one being Joey Graham. He was a bright guy who could jump out of the gym, but never was able to advance his game and is out of the league. Prior to that was Vince Carter, who went from Rookie of the Year to perpetual All-Star and is still a valuable member of the Dallas Mavericks (it pains me to write this sentence). Which path will TR follow, disappointment or distinguished career?

I’m optimistic about Terrence, largely because he possesses a balanced personality and above-average intelligence, and seems to have a grasp of how much work he’ll need to put in to make it in the NBA. The whisper was that Drummond flunked his interview with the Raps, which is why Bryan Colangelo shocked everyone by reaching for TR on draft night. Let’s hope we’re not regretting that decision in 2 years.

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.

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