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.”
Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson