By all accounts it was a big summer for the Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross. The typical, ‘I’ve put on 15 pounds’ and ‘I learned a lot from my playoff experience’, needs to be put in the context of a young player entering his third NBA season. Ross has started to figure things out and he has been pushed hard by President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri to get better. Expectations are justifiably higher this time around.
“I don’t feel like a rookie,” Ross said. “I feel like one of the young guys. I’ve been in too many situations. I’ve had enough playing time that I can’t use that excuse anymore. Everything going forward is just manning up and if I messed up, I messed up. Right now I feel like I am a different player and I can do a lot more than I did last year.”
Starting in the playoffs was huge for Ross and Head Coach Dwane Casey kept throwing him out there even as he struggled against Joe Johnson because of irreplaceable value of this experience. However, the biggest help to Ross’ progress was starting 62 games last season.
“I think playoffs helped me with a different type of development,” Ross said. “Also being here early in the season and starting and taking that challenge on, I think that was the biggest thing for me. It helps you with consistency. If your shot is not falling one night, what else can you do to try to contribute? There were a few different things I worked on this summer to try to be more consistent.
“I think I went over it once with Casey about the last play (against the Nets) – it is almost too hard to watch.”
It was a different Ross prior to training camp this season. There was an underlying confidence that comes from knowing one is better than before and an understanding he has a long ways to go. The quiet guard seemed more focused on the task at hand than in his first two training camps.
“I just feel like wherever I am currently, I can always get better from there,” Ross said. “I feel like even where I am at right now there is a lot more to go. I am never going to be complacent or content where I am at and the biggest thing for me is just staying focused and understanding what it takes to get to where you are at and to get further than where you are at.
“I am anxious to get into another season, but I got to slow down and realize we have to start off the season right to get to where you want to go. Right now, I am just trying to stay focused and stay ready.
“I just took it upon myself to go further than I did last year and that is always going to be my new thing – do a little more than you did last year.”
Ross confirms something that has become evident over the past twelve months. The change in the team, its players, the entire environment around the Air Canada Centre comes from the top. Without President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri, this wouldn’t be the same group.
“I feel like Masai is always going to be right there to help me, give me that push, and I give him credit for my development,” Ross said. “He is always telling me, ‘you got to do better, you got to do better, you got to do better’. I accepted the challenge to get better and it’s only helping me.”
Watch out for Ross. He should be one the league’s breakout candidates this season.