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NBA Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross

Raptors Give Terrence Ross A Fresh Start With The Magic

By Frank McLean

When the Toronto Raptors sent Terrence Ross and a first round draft pick to the Orlando Magic for big power forward Serge Ibaka, they gave their promising young wing a chance at a fresh start. An opportunity to realize his obvious potential without an All-Star standing in his way.

During my days covering the Toronto Blue Jays, the hall of fame general manager Pat Gillick would always tell us that you always have to give up something good to get something good back whenever you make a trade.

Ross in his five years in Toronto was definition of being a hot and cold player. A player Raptors head coach Dwane Casey put a lot of time and effort into developing and showed a lot of faith in despite the inconsistent results.

He is a 38-percent three point shooter lifetime and when he is good he is real good. Like the night a few years back when he scored 51-points against the Los Angeles Clippers tying the franchise record for points in a single game with Vince Carter.

Then there are nights when you watch him and he struggles. Nights when he couldn’t put a jump shot into Lake Ontario from the shore.

Struggling to become a consistent NBA player has been something that didn’t change during his five years in Toronto.

One of the reasons he wasn’t traded sooner by the Raptors was the fear that if he was moved the light might finally come on and the potential that was always there would come to fruition and Ross would become the All-Star he was projected to be.

“As you watch our team play, it’s no secret that sometimes we struggle to make shots, and I think his ability to do just that intrigues us,” Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said last week when acquiring Ross. “His age, his contract are all things that we feel are positives and strengths for us. As Terrence gets situated here, I think his ability to stretch the floor, his ability to score will help our team. I think it’ll help our team at both ends of the floor.”

Ross knows that the skill sets he brings to the table will  help the Magic.

“My shooting, my athleticism and defense. I think I can try to help with that when it comes to the wing position,” Ross told the Orlando Sentinel in an interview last week. “I’m really just looking forward to playing with the guys, getting to know the team, getting to know the city, and just playing hard for them.”

“I had a great time in Toronto. I spent five good years there and grew a lot. The city accepted me and I have a lot of memories. But I’m ready to take the next step in my career, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play for Frank Vogel and play for the Magic and play for the city. I’m just excited about all this.”

Ross made his Magic debut Thursday night at home against the Portland Trail-Blazers where the Magic blew an 11-point fourth quarter lead in an eventual 112-103 loss.

It looked like Ross put the proverbial dagger in the Trail-Blazers when he hit a three pointer with 9:07 left in the fourth to give the Magic a 91-80 lead and then they imploded.

As Magic coach Frank Vogel told me in a conversation we had during the Magic’s recent visit to Toronto “we have to learn how to win” and that showed Thursday night.

Ross started and played 33 minutes, going 4-17 from the field for 13 points and 5 rebounds, so maybe Ross isn’t the one player the Magic need to put them over the top and make them a consistent playoff contender, but he is a start.

Then on Saturday night against the Hawks Ross played 35 minutes and shot 10-15 from the field for a game-high 24 points as the Magic won 105-86 as if to emphasize his potential.

Ross’ long term spot in the rotation hasn’t been decided yet. He may continue to start or he could come off the bench like he did with the Raptors, but one thing is sure Ross is getting a second chance with the Magic and he is going to make the most of it.

 

 

   

DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Serge Ibaka

Raptors Pres. Masai Ujiri Lands Serge Ibaka On His Terms

The Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri can be a frustratingly patient executive when it comes to making a move that seems inevitable, but as has become the norm, in the end he got the Magic’s leading scorer Serge Ibaka on his terms. A deal for Ibaka was always dependent on price.

 

Magic GM Rob Hennigan took a huge risk trading for Ibaka in the summer sending Ersan Ilyasova, Victor Oladipo and 2016 11th overall draft pick Domantas Sabonis to OKC seven months ago. He knew if things didn’t go as hoped, the Magic had just acquired what would become a very desirable free agent in just a year.

Ujiri also had designs on trading for Ibaka last summer, but he wasn’t willing to match or beat Hennigan’s offer and in the end, he’s acquired the three-time All-NBA Defensive First Team power forward for the player believed to be in the offing previously, Terrence Ross.

While Ibaka isn’t the shot-blocking savant he was earlier in his career, he has become the scoring “3-and-D” big man every NBA team now needs to compete at the highest level.

It’s not like Ibaka was “struggling” with the slumping Magic either. The 27-year-old Ibaka led his team with 1710 minutes, 846 points, 83 made three-point field goals, a 54.7 eFG% and 90 blocks. A young veteran in his 8th NBA season, Ibaka will provide an instant impact at both ends of the court for his new team.

The Magic didn’t come away with nothing in this deal. Ross is in the first year of a very reasonable three-year contract that will pay him $10.5 million over each of the next two seasons. The 26-year-old wing is an effective three-point shooter who can be a high flyer around the rim, a creator and an opportunistic defender when he’s at his best. The Raptors have been waiting for four years to see Ross become the consistent elite scorer his natural ability indicates is there. The change of scenery might do him good.

This move represents a solid acquisition for Toronto. Another team’s leading scorer, solid defender and best rim protector who been a role player on a very good team in the past. Ibaka should fit in quickly with little disruption.

However, for the Raptors to “win” this trade Ibaka can’t be just a rental. Ibaka is the kind of player every team needs in today’s NBA. Re-signing “Air Congo” should be a top priority in the summer and indicate the days of squeezing nickels at MLSE is over. One can only hope.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross

Raptors Terrence Ross Is Finally Having A Breakout Season

The Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross has been the player the fans have been clamoring to be traded for a while and not because he wasn’t producing. A three-point threat and scorer since he arrived in the NBA as the eighth overall pick in 2012, it was obvious Ross could/should be doing more with his natural gifts. Well, now in his fifth season, the long awaited breakout is happening. Ross is becoming the natural shooter head coach Dwane Casey envisioned when the team drafted him.

Ross started 62 games for the Raptors in his second season, averaging 10.9 points and shooting 39.5 percent from three-point range, but that’s where his progress seemed to stall if not slide back a step – at least until now. So eventually it was back to the bench instead of a bigger role and Toronto signed the veteran DeMarre Carroll to solidify the small forward spot last season. This will be the third season in a row that Ross’ playing time has dipped, but this year a more mature Ross is accepting his role and performing like never before.

“(I’m) just understanding my role, having fun, trying to expand my game little by little,” Ross told Pro Bball Report. “It’s just like the transition from high school to college and college to the NBA, you get used to it. It’s all about adjusting.”

You should forgive the fans if they thought the adjustments would have happened a little sooner, but they are happening now. This former NBA Slam Dunk champion has figured out there is more to the NBA than just the three-point line and he is finally having the success everyone thought he should in all areas of the court.

Two seasons ago this very athletic wing with the sweet stroke seemed to be afraid of the paint and maybe with good reason. He was only finishing 46.7 percent of his shots there. He didn’t like the midrange much either and took over 51 percent of his shoots from beyond the arc.

Last year Ross started finishing shots in the paint, hitting on 61 percent of those attempts, but he didn’t risk going in there very often – even less than the previous year and it was noticeable. He actually was taking a greater percentage of his shots from three-point range and he looked even more one-dimensional than before.

This year is different. The previous paint allergy seems to have been cured and Ross is finishing a very respectable 64.4 percent of those high percentage opportunities. His midrange game is looking good too and Ross has cut back his three-point attempts to under half of his shots and he’s nailing them at an outstanding 46.1 percent.

This new more confident Ross is scoring from everywhere on the court and averaging his sophomore rate of 10.9 points in 6.8 fewer minutes.

Changes like this usually happen because of what’s done in the summer and it’s apparent Ross was doing something different this off season.

“Getting more shots up and getting used to the distance,” Ross said. “Just a lot of different shots from a lot of different places and trying to expand my range so when I do get tired, shooting the three is nothing.”

But perhaps the biggest difference in Ross this season could be he’s just another year older.

“Just growing up,” Ross said.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri and coach Casey put a lot of faith in the process and a big commitment into developing their young players and it’s paying off. Ross is still just 25-years-old and he’s proving out Casey’s original assessment that he has a natural shooting touch that can’t be taught. It just took time for Ross to adjust to the NBA.

“You go from growing to developing to winning,” Casey said. “It’s when those guys develop into guys that are making winning plays and again there’s no time(table). Some guys take longer to develop.

“It takes time. There is no magic wand where you can rush the process.”

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Norman Powell

It Should Be Norman Powell Time In Toronto

At 16 wins and 7 losses, the Eastern Conference second place Raptors are running well ahead of last year’s 56-win season, so there isn’t much to complain about in Toronto, but after watching this team easily handle their main challenger in the Atlantic Division, just maybe one Norman Powell should be asking when it will be his time in Toronto?

In Boston on Friday night Powell started his fifth game for the Raptors this season and for the fifth time he scored in double-digits. No one should be surprised either. Powell was outstanding as a rookie after the All-Star break last season and had a huge impact in Toronto’s opening playoff series win over the Pacers. The hot hand and solid defensive play this season is just a continuation from last year.

Head coach Dwane Casey has used Powell as a starter in order to give DeMarre Carroll the night off in back-to-back situations with solid success and squeezed out a handful of minutes in other games whether there has been a good reason to do so or not.

Powell has been ready to play every time. However, the backup small forward job was Terrence Ross’ job to lose and he’s been playing some of the best ball of his career. Casey and the Raptors have depth on the wing and it’s a problem, albeit a good problem for the Raptors.

 

 

Casey has put so much time in effort into developing Ross that he has to be genuinely happy to see the 25-year-old putting everything together this season. His shooting and decision-making are better, his turnover rate is way down (again) and his nose for steals and blocks has improved. Ross is having a good year.

Powell is having a better year.

If there is one thing that is biting the high scoring Raptors this season it’s their rebounding and while Ross has 3″ in height over Powell, Powell is tougher on the glass. In fairness, Powell plays tougher than most players. It’s what caught Casey’s attention last season and it’s why this second round pick got on the court in the first place.

Surprising to those that didn’t follow Powell’s brief D-League stint with the 905, he’s also a lot better ball distributor. When Powell was sent to Mississauga to get playing time early last season, then head coach Jesse Mermuys let him have significant minutes running the team at the point. Powell had a knack for it too and it shows as he’s racked up assists at double the rate of Ross or Carroll. Powell is the team’s fourth best player at dishing the ball.

Giving Powell more minutes isn’t going to be an easy change to make. He’s undersized at small forward and isn’t going to displace Carroll. Also, while Powell is handling wild fluctuations in minutes from game-to-game, Ross isn’t likely to do so well in an inconsistent role.

The Raptors are winning with Powell bouncing in and out of the rotation and he gives them a solid starter on the wing if any of their regulars goes down. That’s a luxury few teams can boast. However, Powell has earned more consistent minutes than he’s getting. It should be time for Powell to somehow someway get a bigger role.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross

Magic Want A Scorer, Should Raptors Listen?

The 9-12 Orlando Magic are exploring the trade market for a scorer according to Josh Robins of the Orlando Sentinel and the move shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. This team created a logjam with their big men that forced players out of position and it seems like they have no one to go to when they need a bucket. The Raptors on the other hand are filling the net on a nightly basis, but they have taken a big step back in the rebounding department, so just maybe these two teams should talk?

It’s been obvious for a while that the moves Magic general manager Rob Hennigan made this past summer have had a significant adverse effect on his one-time 19 point 10 rebound starting center Nikola Vucevic who head coach Frank Vogel recently bumped from his starting lineup. While Vucevic is still grabbing double-digit rebounds, his minutes have been reduced and his scoring is down by a third from last year and Vucevic is likely the Magic’s best trade asset by far.

The Magic have plenty of big men needing minutes at the four/five spots with the additions of Bismack Biyombo, Serge Ibaka and Jeff Green and the odd man out has primarily been budding potential future superstar Aaron Gordon who has looked uncomfortable playing out of position at small forward. Trading away one of the bigs to create minutes for Gordon just seems to make sense and with the low value assigned to players with expiring contracts, Vucevic with two more seasons after this one left on his deal may be the only big man Hennigan can swap for a player that can help now.

The Raptors have scoring and if anything, their scoring as been increasing with each passing week and with a 14-7 record, they are a solid second place team in the East on track for another +50 win season. However, this season is starting to take on some of the flavor of two years ago when the scoring came easy, the defense was good, but they couldn’t finish off opponent’s misses with a defensive board and it cost them big time in the playoffs.

Toronto is better than two years ago, but they are getting outrebounded on average and it’s one of the reasons the Cavaliers are still just a little bit better. Toronto is a -0.3 on the boards, but in three games against the Cavs they are -3.4 rebounds and in losses, all with the potential to have been wins, those extra possessions given up matter.

With Sullinger on the shelf with an injury that, in fairness, has an unpredictable return date, Toronto only has Jonas Valanciunas who is reliable on the glass (19.1 percent of the available rebounds). Patrick Patterson, Lucas Nogueira and rookie Pascal Siakam have not been good rebounders, grabbing between 11.2 and 12.4 percent of the available boards.

The obvious scorer on Toronto that should grab Hennigan’s attention would be Terrence Ross. Ross holds the Raptors high water mark for points in a game at 51 and this year he’s expanded his game beyond a three-point threat and is making much better decisions driving the ball, pulling up and using the midrange. At least for the moment, it looks like Ross has finally figured everything out and is becoming the player envisioned when he was drafted five years ago.

If you are looking for scoring, Ross’ value is high and it isn’t going to be easy for Ujiri to let him go. However, the Raptors have their own mini-logjam on the wing with the return of a healthy DeMarre Carroll. Second-year wing Norman Powell has been putting up offensive numbers that rival Ross when he gets a chance to play and there’s a good argument that Powell’s defense is better. Coach Casey keeps looking for reasons to put Powell on the court because he’s earned more minutes, unfortunately minutes are hard to find and as Carroll rounds into form, they’ll get even more scarce.

The mystery in Toronto is whether or not president Masai Ujiri is satisfied with another year developing young talent without any real expectations of getting past Cleveland in the playoffs? Another Eastern Conference Finals appearance would still be pretty satisfying, but are the Raptors really that far behind the team they took to six games in the postseason last year?

Ujiri can stand pat. He has good young talent that will keep getting better, but his (likely) stop-gap measure to cover the loss of Bismack Biyombo’s rebounding broke his foot in the the preseason and as well as the rookie Siakam has played, he’s not going to rebound well enough to replace the more experienced Sullinger – at least not this year.

And then there’s the three-point shot the 26-year-old Vucevic appears to have discovered this season that should garner some serious attention.

The contracts of Ross and Vucevic are very similar and both players would fill an immediate need on the other team. Maybe Ujiri and Hennigan should talk.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

Featured image courtesy of Paul Saini
Instagram:  @fylmm.lifestyle and  @paul_saini

 

 

 


 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross

Is Raptors Terrence Ross For Real Or Just Teasing Us Again?

Terrence Ross is tied with the world famous and undoubted future Hall of Fame inductee Vince Carter for the most points scored by a Raptors player in a regular season game, so fans in Toronto know he can score, but through four seasons Ross has often been more of a tease than the player it’s relatively easy to envision him becoming. Queue his fifth NBA preseason.

Has the light finally turned on for this naturally gifted but inconsistent wing player? Ross has proven he has a jump shot and can nail the three-ball over the course of the past three NBA seasons. He has been outstanding in NBA Dunk Contests suggesting just maybe he should be a little/ a lot better at attacking the rim and he’s shown flashes of outstanding defense, albeit mixed in with stretches of ‘where’s his head at?’

The Raptors are showing subtle signs of impatience with Ross’ progress and brought in three not so young three-point specialists to training camp in Brady Heslip, E.J. Singler and Jarrod Uthoff. If Ross looks soft in preseason any one of these guys would love a shot to prove that they could stretch the floor for head coach Dwane Casey.

In the preseason opener against Golden State, Ross sent a message he wasn’t about to lose his job to some undrafted rookie by shooting 5-9 from the field for 11 points in 15 minutes of action. However, Casey remained tepid in his praise. He’s seen this before.

“Once he hit a couple of shots he got a little bounce in his step and it kind of gets him going, that’s Terrence,” Casey said after the game. “If he sees one go down he gets a little bounce in his step defensively. He had a little bounce in his step offensively. He did a good job. He was a +9. When you come into a game and have an impact on a game like that, I was really impressed.”

To be sure Casey was more impressed with the impact of training camp invitee Drew Crawford who was +14, but fortunately for Ross, Crawford isn’t really a threat to take his minutes (at least not yet).

In preseason game two against Denver Casey gave a couple of his starters the night off freeing up more minutes for the guys fighting it out to make the roster or hold on to their spot in the rotation. Apparently Ross got the message and upped his game to another level. Ross was on fire, shooting 8-12 from the field and nailing four three-balls to score a game-high 23 points in just 20 minutes.

After this effort Casey started moving back towards his usually more hopeful assessment of the young wing he was on board with drafting back in 2012.

“Terrence is mature, he’s growing,” Casey said after game two. “I think that’s part of his growth is to do that every night with the minutes he has in there. Whether he’s in there 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, to go in and produce. Not only on the offensive end, I thought he was active on the defensive end too which was a positive.”

The Raptors extended Ross for three more seasons a year ago and with three-point shooting at a premium in the NBA, Ross will continue to be player mentioned in just about any trade rumor involving Toronto. However, if the light has really come on for Ross, his $10 million per year contract is a bargain under the current and projected NBA Salary Cap. The Raptors will be hoping that’s true, so keep watching this year’s preseason with that in mind. There’s nothing like someone going after your job to bring out the best you have to offer.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 



 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll

Raptors Are Fighting To Be The Next Man Up In Toronto Again

Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey has one of those nice problems to have. He has too many deserving players and not enough minutes to go around leaving a group of guys fighting to be the next man up when opportunity finally knocks.

Even with the departure of starter Luis Scola, back up center Bismack Biyombo and heavily used fill-in James Johnson, finding meaningful minutes for players outside of the team’s top nine players will be a challenge unless someone gets hurt.

Plus, if Casey can, he’d like to find more minutes for some of the guys in his top nine, but if all of them were to just average playing the minutes they had last season, he’d have to create about 10 more minutes a game just to do that.

The Raptors will feature a three guard rotation with Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Cory Joseph soaking up virtually all of the minutes at the one and the two spots. These three very durable guards averaged so many minutes last season (98.5 minutes combined out of 96 available) that the only way Casey could keep them on the floor was to play them together. In 74 games Casey ran a lineup of Lowry, Joseph, DeRozan, Patrick Patterson and one of Jonas Valanciunas or Bismack Biyombo for an average of 3.2 minutes per game.

Heading into this season, the developing Joseph could see even more than the 25.6 minutes he averaged in his first go around in Toronto and since the All-Stars DeRozan and Lowry aren’t likely to be cut back, those minutes will have to come from somewhere (someone) else.

The one player Casey has already hinted at trying to “protect” this season so he’s available in good shape for the playoffs is DeMarre Carroll. Carroll averaged 30.2 minutes, but only played in 26 games due to injury and has only recently returned to playing five-on-five basketball in practice. Known as the Junkyard Dog 2.0, Carroll won’t exactly be excited about playing 24-26 minutes a game, but he’s secure in his contract and a team player. Besides, Casey knows he has to create minutes for the very deserving Norman Powell somehow, someway.

With very limited opportunities expected to be available at shooting guard, Casey will be left searching for ways to get Powell and three-point specialist and all around super tease Terrence Ross 24 minutes a game each this season. Casey can create time by playing small ball and the Raptors, like so many other NBA teams these days, have featured very successful lineups of guards and wings with one big man on the court.

Ross led the Raptors bench in three-point attempts last season (4.6), averaging 9.9 points in 23.9 minutes. As much as Ross can frustrate the fans for not doing more, Toronto needs his ability to stretch the floor. Post All-Star break, Powell averaged 9.6 points in 22.8 minutes and hit on 45.5 percent of his 3.1 three-point attempts, plus Casey loves his physical brand of defense.

The squeeze may come with the big men, although it won’t be easy to sit these guys down either.

Jonas Valanciunas was third in Raptors scoring (12.8 points) in just 26 minutes per game last season and he came up huge in the postseason before he was injured. Now entering his fifth NBA season, the pressure will be on to find JV more playing time. It’s easy to project Valanciunas at his 2016 pre-injury playoff numbers of 15 points, 12.1 rebounds, a steal and 1.4 blocks if he gets 28 to 30 minutes a night.

The crunch may come with Jared Sullinger and Patrick Patterson. Sullinger averaged 23.6 minutes a game in Boston putting up 10.3 points and a team best 8.3 rebounds. He replaces Scola (21.5 minutes per game) at starting power forward, plus Sullinger is expected to spend some time at backup center. Patterson played 25.6 minutes a game last year. However, both players are on expiring contracts and will be pushing hard for a bigger role this time around.

Sullinger and Patterson are highly motivated and very talented players, so Casey isn’t likely to find any minutes here to hand out to someone else. If anything, these two guys should be expected to earn more playing time than last season. It just isn’t that easy to see where the additional minutes for them are going to come from.

Then there’s the crew fighting to be the next man up if and when Casey needs someone.

Sitting on the sidelines and hoping to make an impression on coach Casey at training camp are centers Lucas Nogueira, rookie (9th pick) Jacob Poeltl and rookie (27th pick) center/power forward Pascal Siakam (who is eerily similar to Biyombo except this kid can score too). In other circumstances, on a team without so many quality big men or not fighting for a high playoff seed, these guys would play.

Nogueira has natural gifts of length, hops and quicks that are hard to find. He has the ability to be the best screen setter on the team, the potential to be a three-point threat or to feed the post from the outside for dunks and layups, and a is natural shot blocker. He just has to stay healthy and put it all together for longer than a quarter at a time.

Poeltl was described as the least likely player to be a bust in this year’s draft, a back-handed compliment to be sure, but not wrong. He has all the earmarks of a solid traditional NBA center. He might even become better than JV given time to develop.

Siakam is the guy everyone is likely to get excited about. High energy with more skill than he’s been given credit for, this is the guy to watch in preseason – even if he’s the one pegged as most likely to see time in the 905 right away. There’s just a “Norman Powell-like” feel to this kid.

Just maybe Casey makes the effort/sacrifice to create a few minutes for one of these three big men at backup center?

There never really was an issue with Delon Wright or Bruno Caboclo.

Wright won’t be available until December and he might not even get backup minutes at point guard if Lowry or Joseph aren’t available. Powell looked just as good as Wright running the offense with the 905 last season.

Is Bruno still two years away? t.b.d.

Of the six guys in training camp hoping to land the 15th roster spot, 26-year-old 905 Wing E.J. Singler has the three-point stroke and all around game that would make him an ideal replacement for last season’s injury reserve James Johnson. However, nothing is for certain with this group.

Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey has a lot of decisions to make before the regular season starts, but they feel more like tweaks than earth shattering moves. His biggest issue may be trying to keep everybody happy with the number of minutes he has available and to keep guys fighting to get more.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross

Can Raptors Terrence Ross Shake The Underachiever Label?

The eighth overall pick of the 2012 NBA draft, Terrence Ross was credited with one NBA ready skill by Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey, he could shoot the three-ball. The 6’7 sophomore had averaged 16.4 points by hoisting 194 three-pointers for Washington that season and in just his second NBA season, he was averaging 10.9 points on 39.5 percent shooting from three. Expectations were Ross would live up to his lottery pick status, but instead he’s earned an underachiever label as his second NBA season remains his best NBA season two years later.

Ross knows what he needs to do in the summer to get better and it sounds like he might be on the right track as Basketball Insiders’ Oliver Morney quotes Ross as saying,

“I’ve been putting a lot of focus on getting stronger too; that’s the main goal for me this offseason. I want to make sure I can be more physical when my team needs me to be.

“I want to continue to get stronger and be able to absorb contact better when I’m driving. I’ve been shooting a lot of mid-range shots too. I’m just learning how to read defenses and make the best play possible when I’m out there. Strength helps a lot of things, but thinking about the game and putting myself in scenarios in practice is just as important. I want to become a complete player, so that means I have to work on every area of the game. I’m fully taking advantage of the offseason to improve my game and that’s what I’ve done since I came in the league.”

If this quote sounds like deja vu, there’s a reason. After his second season with the Raptors, Ross said he had put on 15 lbs and just prior to the start of training camp told Pro Bball Report,

“I don’t feel like a rookie. 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. Right now I feel like I am a different player and I can do a lot more than I did last year.”

“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. 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.”

Blame season three on the bone spurs in Ross’ ankle, it was a small step back from the year before, but last year Ross still didn’t get back to his sophomore stats and his four year career averages are starting to look like that’s who he is. 9-10 points, 2-3 rebounds, 38 percent shooting from three and a former Slam Dunk champion that takes less than 10 percent of his shoots within three feet of the basket.

That wasn’t the picture Ross painted for Pro Bball Report as he headed into his fourth NBA season.

“(Go) inside and be a little more versatile and switch everything up, a couple more moves to get separation for shots. A lot of running on the down screen. I just run all over the court and get into condition to do it during the season.”

Ross told Morney, “I’m pretty motivated” and this summer, he should be. Raptors rookie Norman Powell outplayed Ross last season and is poised to take his spot in Casey’s rotation. Powell is stronger, plays a more physical style of game and he shot 40.4 percent from three.

Ross has the potential to become a complete player, as he stated, since he has impressive athleticism and the ability to shoot threes. He seems to possess all the necessary tools to be a talented scorer. – Morney

Ross does have all the tools to become a complete player and a talented scorer. He’s had them since he stepped into the League and occasionally he shows them off in a big way. He thought there was a lot more to go after his second season and so did everyone else, that’s why he’s earned the underachiever label he desperately needs to shake. There is a young talented hungry player working hard to get Ross nailed to the bench next season if he doesn’t.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

Featured image courtesy of Paul Saini
Instagram:  @fylmm.lifestyle and  @paul_saini

 

 

 


 

NBA Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross

Raptors Terrence Ross Is Boss Again

After being the butt of numerous and often flaky trade scenarios dreamt up by a frustrated fan base, Raptors young wing Terrence Ross looks have his game back on his more palatable sophomore season track when he helped Toronto return to the postseason after a five year absence. Ross is boss again from the three-point line and the surging Raptors are reaping the rewards.

“(I’m) just playing with confidence,” Ross told Pro Bball Report recently. “Playing my style and just playing hard.”

Over the course of last season and for the first month of this year’s campaign, Ross could be accused of not always looking like a player that was putting out his full effort. Ankle bone spurs last year and an injured thumb this season might have had something to do with that, but no one should have to look for excuses when it comes to effort and since the start of December, the effort has been there on most nights.

“It’s just playing with focus,” Ross explained. “I’m just shooting it. Doing my same routine.”

The change in play happened as sharply as hitting a light switch. After going oh-for shooting three-pointers in his last two games of November and firing a dismal 26.7 percent from deep for the month, Ross hit at least one three in each of his next four games and shot 41.8 percent from three for the month of December.

“I’m just shooting it,” Ross said. “Doing my same routine. I am comfortable with where my shot is at.”

Ross attributes the current improvement in his shot to working with assistant coach Rex Kalamian. Kalamian was hired by the Raptors in June and had previously worked with the Clippers, Kings, Nuggets, 76ers, Thunder and the Timberwolves where he was on Dwane Casey’s staff.

“(Credit to) Rex Kalamian,” Ross said. “Every shot I’ve taken in practice is a game shot, so when I get into the games it’s always one shot. It’s something I’ve been doing (just) this year.”

Ross has been on fire over his past four games, hitting on 13 of 19 three-point attempts and so far January is looking even better than December. Through 11 games this month, Ross is averaging 43.2 percent from three and he’s scored in double-digits in five of his last six games. Now that’s the kind of scoring punch off the bench Raptors head coach Dwane Casey has been looking for.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross

It’s Time To Give Raptors Terrence Ross His Props

After a bounce-back December, it’s time to consider giving Terrence Ross his props. The Toronto Raptors have reeled off 6 wins in the 9 games since DeMarre Carroll went down with a bruised knee and they flat out couldn’t have done it without Ross’ production.

Terrence Ross shooting warmups Paul Saini FYLMM

There was no small measure of outrage when the Toronto Raptors gave Ross a three-year $31.5 million extension just before the 2015-16 season started. Based on last year, there were strong feelings among the fanbase that Ross hadn’t earned his new contract and those disaffected fans had a point. Ross took a step back in his third season and finding out he played most of the year with bone spurs in his ankle didn’t do much to assuage the fears of the fans had just witnessed a very disappointing end to the season.

Ross didn’t do himself any favors with how he played in November either. A solid month of the wing that couldn’t shoot straight with lackluster defense on top and many fans were ready to ship Ross out of town on a rail. There was no disguising the 3.6 points, 26.5 percent shooting from the field and 26.7 percent shooting from three-point range with a player whose primary strength is supposed to be stretching the floor. All Ross was doing in November was stretching everyone’s patience past the breaking point.

However, now one should have to – if grudgingly – accept head coach Dwane Casey’s patience and explanation that shooters don’t forget how to shoot. At the end of November Ross told Pro Bball Report, “I’m getting (my rhythm) back, it’s coming” and he was right, even if that statement drew a significant amount of skepticism at the time.

Over the past 10 games, Ross is shooting 47.7 percent from the field, 44.6 percent from three-point range and averaging 11.3 points. He’s scored in double-digits in each of his past 5 games and to put it in context, Ross didn’t put together a string like that all of last season.

Five games do not a season make, but that is a big enough sample size to suggest that maybe – just maybe – Ross has found his shooting stroke again and can be the impact player off the bench that Casey needs once Carroll gets back on the court. If slagging a player when he stinks is fair, then he should get his props when he turns it around.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross

Can Raptors Terrence Ross Find His Focus Off The Bench?

It appeared like the Toronto Raptors sent their enigmatic young wing Terrence Ross conflicting messages this past summer. First they eliminated any doubt about the possibility of him being a starter this season by signing 29-year-old small forward DeMarre Carroll to a $60 million four-year deal. Then they re-affirmed their desire to keep Ross around for the long term by giving him a $31.5 million three-year extension. With the extension Ross becomes virtually untradeable this season under the terms of the CBA and solidifies his spot coming off the bench for the foreseeable future.

Terrence Ross arms folded

To say Ross brings out strong opinions from the Raptors fan base would be an understatement. There were a lot of fans that would rather have traded Ross than keep him or even just kicked his inconsistent butt to the curb to make room for the next prospect.

Rookie Norman Powell, veteran James Johnson or just about anybody else would do and their arguments are not without merit. Although there is a chance the brain trust running the team might – maybe – have just a little more information and experience with which to make decisions like these – just saying.

Ross did start the season looking pretty good in his new role, averaging 12.3 points, 46.2 percent shooting from three and a +4.3 points while he was on the court during his first three games. Then the old inconsistent Ross showed up for the next four contests where he shot 1-12 from three-point range and was a -4.3. Sometimes those +/- stats really do reflect what a player is doing for you on the court. The legitimate historical beef about Ross has been, when his shot isn’t falling, his defense disappears as well.

Perhaps mercifully Ross injured his left thumb and missed the next six games and when he returned, thumb all splinted up, he was playing more like his first three games. The thumb doesn’t look pretty, but Ross says its feels okay.

“It’s good, no problems with it,” Ross told Pro Bball Report after the win over Cleveland. “I’m getting (my rhythm) back, it’s coming.”

While his minutes are down, Ross’ efficiency has actually improved. He’s been shooting 50 percent from three since his return and has a +/- of +4 in those last three games. His activity level has been noticeably better and against the Cavaliers, Ross grabbed 3 boards and blocked 2 shots in just 10 minutes of work.

“We got to come in and change the game,” Ross said. “We have to take responsibility and do that every night.”

Ross has never complained about coming off the bench and has said all the right things about embracing his new role. Coming off the bench can give a young player a chance to watch what is going on in a game and come in ready to make an impact. With the minutes available down, Ross has to be more focused and that could be just what he needs.

“It’s fun,” Ross insisted. “You get to see what the game needs and you can step in and provide it.

“Just have focus, it’s easier for me. I got to see what it is like to be a starter and I got to see what it is like to come off the bench, so I kind of know what to do and I am prepared for it.

“We’ve played a lot of games. This is my fourth year, so I’ve kind of caught on to it.”

Ross is in his fourth NBA season, so you know the team is hoping he will find his focus this time to go with his obvious shooting ability. They did after all just guarantee their young wing another +$30 million. His detractors will be waiting for Ross to pull another disappearing act, after all, it isn’t all that hard to find the last one.

Can Ross find his focus in a bench role? He should be able to. He knows what to do and says all the right things. As with any young player trying to prove himself, it’s all on Ross to just do it. No one doubts this kid’s talent.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

TOR_Ross,TerrenceTerrence Ross Is Ready To Bring More To The Raptors This Year

“(Ross) can guard guys at his position,” Casey insisted. “Offensively we can take advantage of a lot of his strengths. We are not going to have a guy coming in doing isos and one-on-ones and stuff like that, but he can space the floor with the second unit. Definitely there are going to be situations he is going to be in where we do go small. Terrence is an excellent piece for both units in certain situations defensively and definitely certain situations stretching the floor.”

 

 

Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross

Raptors Terrence Ross Out With Thumb Injury

Media Release:

TERRENCE ROSS INJURY UPDATE

Raptors forward-guard Terrence Ross sustained a ligament injury to his left thumb during a Monday workout session. There is no timetable for his return to basketball activity. His status will be updated as appropriate.

Ross has averaged 6.3 points, 1.9 rebounds and 17.5 minutes in seven appearances as a reserve this season. He had a season-high 21 points October 30 at Boston.

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross

Toronto Raptors Bet On Terrence Ross With A 3-Year Extension

The Toronto Raptors have gambled on the development of Terrence Ross by signing the young wing to a lucrative three-year extension reported at $10.5 million per season.

As reported by Ben Golliver of SI.com, Ross and the Hornets Jeremy Lamb were the only players on rookie contracts signing at the deadline on Monday night.

After Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Damian Lillard, John Henson and 2011 holdover Jonas Valanciunas reached lucrative extensions earlier this summer, Hornets guard Jeremy Lamb and Raptors guard Terrence Ross were the only players to ink rookie extensions in the hours before Monday’s deadline.

That sends the rest of the 2012 class, including lottery picks Andre Drummond, Bradley Beal, Dion Waiters, Harrison Barnes and Meyers Leonard, on the path towards restricted free agency next summer.

Signing Ross is the NBA equivalent of a preemptive strike ahead of a rapidly rising salary cap and pending restricted free agency next summer. While no one would/should argue the price paid for Ross’ signature is high based on his production and the salary cap during the recent past, just about every NBA general manager has some very real fears about what could happen next summer with the cap set to rise by about $20 million. Ross’ deal could look cheap after what is sure to be a very tense free agency period in each of the next two summers.

Extending a young player who is still in the relatively early stages of their development always entails some significant risks for both parties. However, both parties are genuinely hoping Ross blossoms in his new role coming off the bench.

The move signals the Raptors commitment to Ross this season. Players signed to rookie extensions while they are still under contract are almost untradeable because of the poison pill provision in the CBA.

For those who justifiably feel $10.5 million is just too much to bet on Ross, one needs to remember that with the increased TV revenues coming into the NBA over the next two seasons, a $10 million per year contract next season and beyond is comparable to a $6 million per year contract of a year ago. Maybe that helps? It certainly explains why NBA GMs have been struggling with the contract demands of their players.

Press Release:

RAPTORS SIGN ROSS TO CONTRACT EXTENSION

The Toronto Raptors announced Tuesday they have signed forward-guard Terrence Ross to a multi-year contract extension. Per team policy, financial details were not disclosed.

“Terrence has shown growth with each season,” said Raptors President and General Manager Masai Ujiri. “We are excited that he will be part of what we are building in Toronto. He is a great teammate and has worked hard to become one of our best shooters.”

Currently in his fourth season with the Raptors, the 24-year-old Ross has averaged 9.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and made 377 three-pointers in 239 career games. Ross tied the franchise record with a 51-point outing January 25, 2014 against the Los Angeles Clippers at Air Canada Centre. He also set career highs for field goals made (16), three-pointers made (10), free throws made (9) and minutes played (44) in that game.

Ross was selected eighth overall by Toronto in the 2012 NBA Draft and averaged 6.4 points and 2.0 rebounds, making 65 three-pointers, in 73 games his rookie season. He followed that with career highs of 10.9 points and 3.1 rebounds in 81 games. He also posted career bests in three-point field goal percentage (.395) and three-point field goals made (161) in 2013-14.

Last season, Ross appeared in all 82 games averaging 9.8 points and 2.8 rebounds with 145 three-pointers as the Raptors won a franchise-best 49 games. In 11 career playoff appearances, he has averaged 5.7 points, 1.8 rebounds and 24.1 minutes.

The Portland, Oregon native has represented Toronto twice in the Sprite Slam Dunk during All-Star Weekend. He won the 2013 event in Houston and was a member of the winning team along with Washington’s John Wall and Indiana’s Paul George at the 2014 contest in New Orleans.

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross

Terrence Ross Is Ready To Bring More To The Raptors This Year

The Raptors Terrence Ross had a disappointing third NBA season in Toronto. After being called one of his team’s best defensive players in a strong sophomore campaign by his head coach, Ross kind of disappeared the next year. It was only after the fact that everyone learned what had been holding him back.

Terrrence Ross interview:

 

 

“Last year during the season probably midway through I always used to roll my ankle at practice, I used to roll my ankle during games (and) I would always play through it,” Ross told Pro Bball Report. “At the end of the season they just wanted me to get x-rays and I had three or four bone spurs that I had to get out, so they said that would probably be a good idea.”

Ross came back from surgery very quickly and was seen working out at the Air Canada Centre during the team’s pre-draft workouts in June. It was a minor procedure that didn’t really hold Ross back from training during the summer.

“I felt good,” Ross said. “They just wanted to take it slow so I didn’t hurt myself. For the most part I was back fine.”

In part because of his ankle problems, Ross was reduced to a three-point shooter for much of last year and he was good at it, taking almost five per game and hitting on 37.2 percent of them, but this year he needs to do more. As a second unit guy he needs to make more of an impact more quickly and in a greater number of ways.

“I think kind of what Lou (Williams) did last year for the second squad,” Ross said. “For me, more of a coming off down screens and spotting up, always on the move and taking the three that’s something they want me to do this year.

“(Go) inside and be a little more versatile and switch everything up, a couple more moves to get separation for shots. A lot of running on the down screen. I just run all over the court and get into condition to do it during the season.”

Head Coach Dwane Casey expects Ross to get back on track and, not surprisingly, is looking for Ross to up his defensively game almost immediately. Plus a team can never have enough shooting.

Dwane Casey at media day“(Ross) can guard guys at his position,” Casey insisted. “Offensively we can take advantage of a lot of his strengths. We are not going to have a guy coming in doing isos and one-on-ones and stuff like that, but he can space the floor with the second unit. Definitely there are going to be situations he is going to be in where we do go small. Terrence is an excellent piece for both units in certain situations defensively and definitely certain situations stretching the floor.”

One of the things that will help Ross this season is the addition of some solid veterans he can learn from. DeMarre Carroll is taking Ross’ spot in the starting lineup, but Carroll is a player that had to work hard in order to get into this position and Ross can learn a lot from him. Scola is another veteran who has built his reputation on hard work and doing things the right way. Ross has some great examples to look to.

“It’s nice, a lot of guys that have been to the playoffs, been to the finals, won championships, there is a lot of experience on the team now,” Ross explained. “(Scola’s) I.Q., his knowledge of the game, his experience, it rubs off on everybody and helps everybody kind of mature faster. It helps everybody up their game that much more.”

In many ways Ross sounds a lot like he did at the start of last season, optimistic and upbeat. However, he is in a better situation, has more support and will not be under as much pressure to perform. Ross should have a strong year. He should be bringing a lot more to the Raptors than what might be reasonably expected from last season.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Will Raptors Terrence Ross Breakout Or Bust?

Last season was a disappointing failure on the part of the Toronto Raptors wing Terrence Ross to build upon a strong sophomore year and it is only going to get tougher for the 24-year-old in 2015-16. The starting small forward spot was Ross’ to lose and he’s lost it to veteran DeMarre Carroll. Head coach Dwane Casey still wants Ross to succeed and he’ll be given every chance again this year, but it’s breakout or bust this time.

Expectations were high in 2014-15 for Ross and the young wing headed into the season with a level of confidence that wasn’t evident prior to his first two seasons in the NBA. However, when DeMar DeRozan went down with an early season injury and opportunity knocked loudly on Ross’ door he failed to step up. It was a more timid and less aggressive Ross than anyone anticipated, but maybe there was an undisclosed reason for the apparent lack of effort to grab the bull by the horns.

After the season ended Ross had bone spurs and loose bodies removed from his left ankle and Casey confirmed that Ross had played through the problem. While that’s positive, in a backhanded kind of way, it’s an excuse by pro sports standards. It will be up to Ross to show last year was a grind it out through pain season and this year everyone will see the “real Ross” on the court.

Even hobbled by a wonky ankle Ross fired up almost five three-point shots per game and hit on a very respectable 37.2 percent of them. Willing shooters with range are a valued commodity so Ross has an NBA skill, but this former slam dunk champion has set the bar higher than that all by himself. Casey has other options to give minutes to if three-point shooting is all Ross is going to bring to the table this season.

The Raptors had a strong summer and President and General Manager Masai Ujiri filled the obvious holes in a 49-win roster with players that fit Casey’s system and his own belief that no one should be able to push around a team he runs. Ross will have real competition for minutes if he doesn’t step up.

Slotted in as DeRozan’s backup at shooting guard, Ross could grab more minutes by becoming Casey’s best option at backup small forward as well. Becoming the third wing in a three wing rotation would be the ideal situation Ross for to carve out. In his way are some real threats however.

The Raptors signed Canadian free agent point guard Cory Joseph this summer and the former Spur comes with Championship experience not often seen in Toronto. Joseph will be backing up Kyle Lowry, however, he played in the two-point line-ups Casey has become a fan of and the Spurs have used effectively. Minutes that might otherwise have belonged to Ross could just as easily go to Joseph, especially if Joseph is effective defending either guard position like he was in San Antonio and Ross looks lackadaisical on defense. Defense is what wins minutes from Casey, it’s no secret.

Waiting in the wings is another threat to Ross minutes at shooting guard. Rookie Norman Powell looked incredible during Summer League and while that performance won’t get him into the Raptors rotation alone, the NBA is built on young players coming into the league and taking jobs away from someone else. Everyone expects Powell to start his pro career playing with the Raptors 905, but he has looked like a rookie who was planning on taking someone else’s job instead.

While there are also minutes available at backup small forward and Casey might want Ross to win this battle, he can’t just hand them to him.

James Johnson has moved in and out of Casey’s doghouse, but the 28-year-old can be very good when he’s on his game and last year he was more effective than Ross most of the time. Johnson doesn’t have legitimate three-point range, but he’s on an expiring contract and he has been through the school of hard knocks more than once in his NBA career. Johnson isn’t going to let Ross just take his minutes. It’s taken several coaches and the risk of being out of the league to beat the importance of doing what your coach says into Johnson’s skull, but he’ll play defense and collect the garbage at the offensive end if that keeps him on the court and in the NBA. Ross needs to outwork and outperform Johnson if he wants those minutes.

Another player who may or may not quite be ready to storm onto the scene is last year’s rookie surprise Bruno Caboclo. Caboclo can shoot the three-ball and he has the height, length and athleticism that got him drafted in the first round despite minimal basketball experience. How much he’s improved over the summer isn’t known and it’s anticipated Caboclo will start the season with the Raptors 905 to get minutes, but sometimes the light comes on and a young player starts to “get it” – Ross doesn’t need any extra competition for minutes this year.

On a team expected to win about 50 games, the Atlantic Division crown and finally get out of the first round of the playoffs, opportunities will have to be earned. The kid glove treatment is over for Ross. Other players will get their shot at his minutes if he doesn’t perform.

Ross was back in the Raptors practice gym in June so the ankle issues should be behind him along with any excuses for a slow start to the season. So, expectations shouldn’t be tempered because of what happened last season, if anything, they should be raised.

Ross has the talent, athleticism and skill to be an impact player off the bench for Toronto this season and nothing less should be considered acceptable. This is a breakout or bust year. Ross either starts to fulfill the promise he came into the NBA with or he slips into the role of limited three-point shooter and underachieving, bench-warming lottery pick bust.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 
Terrence Ross warmups Paul Saini FYLMMA Big Bounce-Back Year Expected For Terrence Ross

Casey, “What a lot of people don’t understand is that he had a lot of stuff in his ankle. He had that taken out this spring. He played through it last year. Whether that was why he took a dip defensively, I don’t know. I tell everybody that he was our best defensive wing player two years ago, and we were pretty good.”

 

 

A Big Bounce-Back Year Expected For Terrence Ross

Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross had a confusingly disappointing season in his third year under Head Coach Dwane Casey. Something was off after progress the year before and the higher expectations only served as a stark contrast to what was being witnessed on the court. The upcoming season is a contract year for Ross and there is a lot at stake for the young wing. A big bounce-back is required if Ross is to regain the “3-and-D” status that will get him paid next summer.

Prior to training camp last fall Ross was upbeat. There was an underlying confidence that comes from knowing one is better than before and what to do to further improve. At the time, the quiet guard seemed more focused on the task at hand than in his first two training camps.

“I don’t feel like a rookie,” Ross said at the time. “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.”

However, the improvements never came and Ross seemed to regress.

Only after the season was over did the Raptors provide an explanation. Ross had been playing with bone spurs and loose bodies in his left ankle that required surgery in May.

Recently, Casey told NBA.com’s John Schuhmann he considered Ross his best defensive wing prior to the ankle problems.

Casey, “What a lot of people don’t understand is that he had a lot of stuff in his ankle. He had that taken out this spring. He played through it last year. Whether that was why he took a dip defensively, I don’t know. I tell everybody that he was our best defensive wing player two years ago, and we were pretty good.”

After the big trade with Sacramento two years ago, Ross was inserted into the starting lineup at small forward and the Raptors did play stellar defense. Casey did have the luxury of substituting in veteran wing John Salmons whenever Ross got into difficulty, however, the improvement in Ross’ game during the season was palatable.

There has always been a potential issue utilizing DeMar DeRozan and Ross together in the starting lineup, both players have an advantage at shooting guard, but both can be taken advantage of by bigger small forwards. Ross isn’t physically capable of defending any number of starting small forwards he is likely to face.

Casey, “We’ve been getting by with Terrence Ross and DeMar DeRozan, who are really twos, playing the three and physically trying to go against bigger threes. Whether it’s been on the boards or guarding them, it’s been a challenge for those guys. I thought they did an admirable job two years ago, but it took a toll on us this past year, offensively and defensively.”

The signing of free agent small forward DeMarre Carroll means, barring injury, Ross is out of the running to start games this season, but it also means Ross should be the first wing off the bench and opportunity knocks for Ross to fight for minutes and prove his value.

Although Ross can expect to be given every opportunity to succeed, nothing will be handed to him this year.

Inbound Canadian free agent guard Cory Joseph will be backing up Kyle Lowry at point guard, but he is equally capable at off guard and will get his chances to play in the two point guard lineups that have become very popular in Toronto and throughout the NBA. Forward James Johnson is also in a contract year and Johnson was specifically brought in to handle the bigger small forwards Ross and DeRozan can struggle to contain. The potential squeeze on Ross’ minutes is obvious.

Casey, “He’s got to get back to that level more so than with his shooting. But I don’t think he’s hit a slump. He didn’t take that next big step. He hasn’t forgot how to shoot. Even with one leg, he was shooting this morning. So we’re looking for big things out of him and this is a big year for him, career-wise.”

It will be a fight for minutes against internal competition Ross will have to be at his best to contend with. If this situation doesn’t bring a big bounce-back year out of Ross, then perhaps nothing can – at least not in Toronto.

 

 


Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

photo credit Paul Saini Fylmm.com

 

 

Terrence Ross in purple Paul Saini FYLMMRaptors Terrence Ross Is Back From Injury Already

The Toronto Raptors wing Terrence Ross was seen working out with Director of Sports Science Alex McKechnie on Tuesday following the scheduled predraft workouts at the Air Canada Centre.

 

 

 

Raptors Terrence Ross Is Back From Injury Already

The Toronto Raptors wing Terrence Ross was seen working out with Director of Sports Science Alex McKechnie on Tuesday following the scheduled predraft workouts at the Air Canada Centre.

It has only been a month since the Raptors announced he underwent surgery in Van Nuys, California to remove bone spurs and loose bodies from his left ankle, however, Ross looked pretty good going through the exercises McKechnie was demanding from the young man.

Ross is only 24-years-old and there was no reason to be concerned about his ability to come back (better) following the surgery. Still it was encouraging to actually see him on the court already and showing no obvious signs of discomfort.

 

 

photo credit Paul Saini Fylmm.com

NBA Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross

Raptors Terrence Ross Undergoes Left Ankle Surgery

Press Release:

RAPTORS MEDICAL UPDATE
Terrence Ross Has Ankle Surgery

The Toronto Raptors announced Saturday forward-guard Terrence Ross underwent surgery yesterday in Van Nuys, California to remove bone spurs and loose bodies from his left ankle. The procedure was performed by Dr. Richard Ferkel at the Southern California Orthopaedic Institute.
Ross will conduct his rehabilitation in Toronto. No timetable has been set for a return to basketball activities.

Finally an explanation for Ross’ lack of progress this past season.

 

photo credit Paul Saini Fylmm.com

Raptors Opted For Player Evaluation Over Playoff Success

Toronto Raptors President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri slipped in the reason of his team’s lack of playoff success. Just like last season, he opted for player development and evaluation.

“I feel good about (standing pat at the trade deadline), Ujiri said. “We made it based on just throwing these guys out there and really seeing, giving them that opportunity because the questions you guys would be asking me now if you got a veteran or some kind of player (would be) well – Jonas did not play so much or this person (Ross?) did not play so much and so we don’t know him. I didn’t want to be put in that situation because I want to know our players and I think this opportunity gave us – (including) the playoffs and not doing anything gave us the opportunity to know our players. To really really know and study them – what they can do, what we feel maybe what they may be able to do and stop guessing really because at the end of the day we have to make really good decisions on them like the questions that have been asked about extensions and stuff. You want to know what they can do rather than guess.”

Last year it was Head coach Dwane Casey explaining the importance of playing then second year players Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas during the seven game playoff series with the Nets. This year it was Ujiri’s call at the trade deadline to stand pat rather than bolster a roster that was badly in need of a kick in the butt, but Ujiri does have a point. The Raptors have to know – not guess – what to do when discussing extensions to the rookie deals of Ross and Valanciunas this summer. Sometimes player development and finances are going to trump winning.

“We knew we were going to get punched in the face,” Ujiri admitted. “And I say it again, it’s not all doomsday for us. We are really happy with the base.”

So just how happy is Ujiri with his two third year players? Apparently, pretty happy.

“We are extremely excited,” Ujiri said. “I think sometimes as we say, do we look at what (Ross and Valanciunas) do and what they do well. I think we sometimes tend to criticize what they don’t do and sometimes when you are internal and you look at those players, we have to concentrate on what they can do well and can we get any better.

“They know our system. They are growing with our system. They have been smacked in the face a little bit. They are young, so it’s something we are going to seriously take a look at. We love their upside.”

Not everyone is as excited about Ross as Ujiri is or as confident in Ross’ defense as the sales job Casey was dealing during the post season, but their comments do provide some insight into how the Raptors view their young wing.

“Everybody says when is Terrence going to get to the line?” Ujiri said. “Well, you know what, Terrence is a great shooter. He fell back on defense a little bit, but we felt that he started getting it back together.”

Ross can be a bit hard to get excited about. The kid has a lot of talent, but he doesn’t often show a lot of confidence and more was expected in his third season. Valanciunas, on the other hand, was showing improvement – enough improvement that just maybe Casey should have taken off the kid gloves and let his developing center face just a little more adversity.

“(Valanciunas) is a huge part of our team,” Ujiri said. “We can criticize Jonas all we want and it’s a big discussion we are going to have with Coach and the staff (about) how he was used. Those guys are hard to find. You can scout around the world and try to find a ‘Jonas’ and pick guys like that (but) it also takes time.

“We feel that he got better rim protecting. His feet got a little bit better. He got more confident in the post. He got better rebounding defensively. It’s gradual with big guys. It takes time and he is going to be a big part of our building.

“There’s upside. It takes a while. You guys know me, there’s no knee jerk reaction here. I am going to be patient. That is going to be our nature of building here.”

No knee jerk reaction has been a Ujiri mantra since his arrival in Toronto. The Raptors GM strongly believes in developing his own players and building a team over time. Last year’s success and this season’s high expectations were undoubtedly a year or two ahead of schedule.

It isn’t easy and it wasn’t comfortable watching the Raptors fail to get out of the first round of the playoffs two seasons in a row and getting swept by Washington was painful for even the ever patient Ujiri. However, even in hindsight the Raptors GM would have made the same decision at the trade deadline. He had to know – not guess – where his two third year players were in their development. There is just too much money at stake when negotiating extensions to their rookie contracts this summer and a bad decision could haunt the Raptors for the next five years.

 


Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross

Raptors Coach Casey Says Terrence Ross Has His Focus Back

It would be polite to suggest the Toronto Raptors third year wing Terrence Ross had regressed this season. Expectations were high that Ross would take the next step in becoming an effective ‘three-and-D’ player, but a lack of focus and aggression on the court has left just about everyone frustrated with his game. Head coach Dwane Casey even took the unexpected, but more than reasonable, step of removing Ross from the starting lineup for a while – it didn’t help.

However, the message from the team this year and last has been consistent. The Raptors are willing to invest a lot of time and effort into Ross’ development. They know it may (will) cost them a few wins along the way, but there is a long term focus in Toronto, so it shouldn’t have surprised anyone when Casey put Ross back into the starting lineup nine games ago despite not having a compelling reason to do so.

Toronto has four wins and five losses since Ross was reinserted and those wins have come at the expense of the struggling HEAT, Pacers, Timberwolves and Knicks. Objectively Ross has played better, but it was somewhat surprising to hear the level of praise coming from his head coach.

“I love Terrence’s focus,” Casey said. “Terrence has really been focused the last couple of weeks since he has gotten back in the starting lineup. He has been very mature in his approach, following the game plan, understanding what he needs to do defensively and offensively. His overall engagement and approach has been great.”

Ross is still getting abused defensively. He still loses his man off screens, back cuts or any manner of veteran offensive move, but he is shooting better and the numbers say he is more effective than he has been all season.

“It is just how it goes,” Ross said. “You get a little fatigued, your shot is a little off, but once you get your legs back, you’re good as new.

“(The All-Star break) gave you a little bit of time to take off and rest your body.”

Pre-All-Star break Ross was shooting a disappointing 36.8 percent from three-point range, but after the break that has ballooned to 41.5 percent. For a player who has been reluctant to drive and rarely gets to the free throw line, a nearly 5 percent bump in his three-point shooting is huge.

Casey’s generous assessment of Ross’ play isn’t without some merit. Prior to being reinserted into the starting lineup, Ross was a +0.3 points per game while he was on the court and that can only been described as terrible on a team winning 60 percent of their games. Since rejoining the starters nine games ago, Ross is +2.6 points while on the court – not great, but at least respectable. On a relative basis, maybe Casey’s high praise isn’t so far off base even if there remains massive room for improvement.

Toronto has had the Atlantic Division crown in the bag for a couple of months already and should easily set a new franchise record for wins in a season, so in reality, this team has been practicing for the playoffs and the future for some time now. They can afford to invest in player development.

If Casey is right and Ross has found his focus, the last dozen games of the season provide an opportunity for his young wing to get his act together in time for the playoffs.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

photo credit Paul Saini Fylmm.com

 

 

Ross Media DayRaptors Terrence Ross Credits GM Ujiri For His Progress

“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.”

 

 

Terrence Ross 1The Raptors Terrence Ross Is Set To Breakout This Season

“It is a lot less stressful,” Ross said. “It is harder, but in some ways you can play a little more freely. Just knowing that I am going to get the chance to keep playing, I am always going to get the opportunity, you don’t have to rush it and try to prove yourself as much, so now you just play your game and they keep me on the court. Now I just have to sharpen it up and make sure I don’t make many mistakes.”