By Frank McLean
Terrence Ross made his return to Toronto with his new team the Orlando Magic and even though for Ross it’s still “a little strange” being a member of the Magic, his new head coach Frank Vogel is happy to have him.
“He has played beyond expectations,” Vogel said when Pro Bball Report asked him about the short time Ross has been a member of the Magic.
Vogel has always been a big fan of Ross, having played the Raptors three to four times a year during his previous gig as the head man in Indiana. Vogel knew that Ross, when he’s hot, can be as deadly a shooter as anyone in the NBA.
Ross is entrenched in a special spot in the Raptors record book as one of only two players to have a 50-plus point game in franchise history when he tied Vince Carter’s 51-point record against the Los Angeles Clippers three years ago.
During his four and a half years in Toronto Ross was a key man coming off the bench for Raptors coach Dwane Casey. In Orlando, he has been in the starting line-up every night.
“I have always been high on Terrence when we played him when I was with the Pacers,” Vogel said. “I know what he can do and a lot of guys when you come into a new system you can exceed your expectations or fall short and Terrence has definitely exceeded my expectations in terms of being a high character guy and fitting in well.
“His transition was seamless,” Vogel added. “He picked up everything very, very quickly on both ends of the floor. And he fits this style of play that we are trying to implement.”
The deal the Magic made sending power forward Serge Ibaka to Toronto for Ross signalled a change in their style of play from the start of the season.
In the off season the plan was to go big and play a physical style of basketball. They signed Bismack Biyombo to a 70-million plus contract in which he has turned into a backup center and they acquired Ibaka from Oklahoma City to join Nikola Vucevic to form a modern day version of smashmouth basketball.
As a result third year power forward Aaron Gordon was moved to small forward and it did just not work out the way the Magic had planned so they decided to change their philosophy midway through the season.
Putting Gordon back at power forward and having Ross at small forward is working out better for the Magic.
“Offensively it’s not just a catch and shoot game. The memories I have of him (Ross) are drilling those corner threes when we were over helping on DeMar and Kyle,” Vogel said. “We have really been able to put the ball in his hands in the dribble-handoff game and off screens. Not only is he knocking down shots but he’s making plays off the bounce. He’s a dynamic play-maker when he’s going downhill towards the basket and making good decisions with the pass.”
The changes the Magic have made will not put them in the playoffs this season. Vogel said the goal now for this group is to win as many games as they can down the stretch to give them a good taste in their mouth as they take off for a long summer offseason and come to training camp in October on a positive note.
One thing for sure Ross will be a key part in a Magic team that will be gunning for a playoff spot next season and the Magic are happy they have him.