For me, Terrence Ross is easily the most frustrating player on the Toronto Raptors. The guy simply drives me crazy. I’ve racked my brain and tried to think back to when I was last annoyed this much by a Raptor, and the only thing that comes to my mind was watching Vince Carter half-ass his way through his last few seasons.
Many will likely jump in with Andrea Bargnani at this point; but Bargnani never truly frustrated me. In actuality, Bargnani was little more than an annoyance, reminding me more of a hangnail than anything else.
Bargnani was who he was, and it felt like all I needed was a pair of clippers to get rid of him. Ujiri became that pair of clippers that ridded me of Bargnani, and brought me satisfaction.
Ross on the other hand gives me hope, and then finds ways of making me second guess what I just saw/experienced (this was the general Bargnani experience for many…I simply cared too little about him for it to be mine). After all, there are few people in the world who can do what Ross can. He can electrify the crowd with displays of pure athleticism and power, but can also softly/smoothly drain the long ball at a rate of 43.5 percent.
How many people in the world can display this type of shooting stroke:
While also being able to do this to someone:
He has the ability, in theory, to win both a dunk contest (as he did two years ago) and a three point shoot-out…which gives me an incredible amount of hope for what he could one day become. If you haven’t recently watched the highlights of his 51 point explosion last season against the Los Angeles Clippers, take a few minutes and remind yourself of his brilliant performance from that night.
Ross has all the tools needed to be a star in the league, and we get regular glimmers of that hope. The first quarter against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday was one of many reminders for just how high his ceiling truly is. Ross went off for 15 first quarter points, while shooting 6-of-8 from the field, and 3-of-4 from three point range. The Kings had no answer for Ross, who asserted himself early on, and hit everything from floaters, to mid-range and long distance while helping the Raptors to a nine point first quarter lead. Ross did it all.
But the game didn’t end there. Ross was almost non existent on offense the rest of the night, scoring just five more points, and hitting 2-of-7 remaining shots.
Thankfully, Ross has seemingly taken his game to a new level with the loss of DeRozan. In the past five games (the majority of which have been played with DeMar) Ross is taking 10 shots from the field (5.2 from long range), and his hitting 54% from the field, 46.2 from three, and 100 percent from the free throw line (on just 0.8 attempts per game).
With T-Ross, it seems like he is can only be stopped by himself. His body language noticeably changes when his shot stops falling. He starts to slump his shoulders, move slower around the perimeter, and looks like he has been defeated before he even releases the shot.
His poor body language also shows up when his man hits a shot. Ross’ athleticism and foot speed remind people that he could one day become a top of the line defensive wing, but this has yet to be consistently evident on the court. According to NBA.com, there isn’t a single shooting range where Ross is preventing his cover from shooting below their season averages. The closest he comes to this is from three point range, where he allows the shooter to hit just 0.8 percent higher than they normally have.
These defensive numbers have looked even worse over the past five games, in direct correlation with Ross’ latest offensive surge. Over this stretch, Ross is allowing his opponent to shoot 19.1 percent better than their season average, compared to 4.9 percent over the length of the season.
These defensive numbers are, of course, negatively impacted by the fact that a natural shooting guard like Ross is usually being asked to guard the oppositions small forward. Although this helps us to understand the numbers as they appear, it still does not excuse what they seem to show us.
At this point, his defensive reputation is bigger than his defensive performance has been. The potential is there, but the consistency isn’t yet.
Simply based on ability, it is Ross who should reach All-Star status, and not DeRozan. The fact that DeMar has already made the All-Star game is just a testament to his remarkable work ethic and determination.
If Ross were able to borrow DeMar’s attitude/work ethic, he could be a dominant player in the league. Which is why it was so encouraging to hear that Ross trained with DeMar this past summer.
Fans are constantly told of the importance for a team to have a veteran presence, by which their young players can learn what it means to be a professional and what it takes to be successful. Toronto needs DeRozan to be just that…to show Ross firsthand how to become great.
My hope is that Ross can assert himself more fully while DeMar rests his torn groin, and that watching from the sideline will give DeRozan further opportunity to teach.
The NBA is already taking notice of the Toronto Raptors, but if Ross can ever reach his star potential, the Raptors will become all the more dynamic.
And my frustration may finally be put to rest…