What to do with Terrence Ross? Part 1 of 2


Nov 21, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Terrence Ross (31) is congratulated by point guard Kyle Lowry (7) after making a three-pointer against the Milwaukee Bucks at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Bucks 124-83. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s Note: Please welcome new staff writer David Helm to our site.

Terrence Ross will forever be the player the Raptors selected over Andre Drummond in the 2012 NBA Draft. I threw a mini hissy fit when Bryan Colangelo leapfrogged Drummond, who was in the conversation as a number one pick throughout his freshman season. Mobile, physically imposing seven-footers with proven defensive acumen and offensive upside are a scare resource in the NBA, and Drummond’s tumble down the draft board had little to do with his basketball ability. Instead our embattled GM chose to address our small forward position, perhaps thinking we had our center position shored up for the future with the impending arrival of Jonas Valanciunas from overseas. With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes already off the board, Colangelo selected an athletic, unpolished 3 & D prospect. Fast forward a little over two seasons, and Drummond has established himself as the lone blue chipper on a rudderless Detroit squad, while the inconsistent play of Ross has led to calls for him to be relegated to bench duty for the best team in the East.

In his 2+ seasons with the Toronto Raptors, Terrence Ross has proven himself to be an intriguing, occasionally frustrating prospect. Small forwards who can defensively lock down their position while converting a high percentage of their 3-point field goal attempts are scarce in the NBA. A player under 25 years old who possesses that skillset and can also explode for 51 points against a strong Clippers squad would appear to be on the cusp of stardom. Then again, that’s looking at Terrence Ross through rose-coloured glasses, which I admit to doing on frequent occasions. A more level headed analysis of Ross would be one that admits he has flashes of brilliance and loads of potential for future growth at such a young age, but that he’s less than ideal for the role he’s currently asked to fill. While he’s long and quick (much like DeMar), Ross is susceptible to being bullied by bulkier wings. He’s not a very skilled post defender, which only emphasizes his difficulty guarding the Joe Johnsons’ of the league.

On the offensive end, Ross is beginning to get comfortable handling the basketball and slashing to the hoop, but is still far too one dimensional with his efficient 3-point shot and unsatisfactory mid-range game. If he puts it all together, Ross still can be a very scary NBA 3, but I just don’t believe he’s being given enough opportunities in the starting line-up to reach his potential. Casey has dabbled in having Ross initiate the offense, but with an elite ball-dominant point guard in Lowry, it’s a novelty at best. Ross’s running mate on the wing, DeMar DeRozan, has a very high usage rate and requires a lot of touches and shots to get his buckets. A growing number of fans and NBA writers have pointed to the continued development of Jonas Valanciunas as being the key for the Raptors to elevate to elite status within the NBA. That requires touches, and in a 48 minute basketball game, there are only so many to go around.

Were Terrence to be relegated to the second unit, Casey would be given the opportunity to showcase Ross to develop his offensive repertoire without having to focus on guarding the elite offensive wings littered around the NBA.

We’ll explore Terrence off the bench in Part Two.