It’s been a love-hate relationship between Toronto Raptors fans and Terrence Ross. Since T-Ross was drafted with the 8th pick in the 2012 draft, the swingman has both awed and frustrated fans in such a polarizing fashion. Maybe it was partially because Raptors fans have always held high expectations for the ultra-talented Ross due to his potential. The athleticism, silky smooth jump shot, and lateral quickness has always been there – not to mention an electrifying bounce that won him a dunk contest, or the record-tying 51 point eruption we witnessed. The issue with Ross has never been talent – rather a perceived lack of effort and basketball IQ, leading to inconsistent play. However, this season, Ross has made fans and critics alike sing a different tune.
Here’s the thing – Ross has been a solid contributor throughout his career. Looking at the numbers at a glance compared to his career averages, this year’s improvement isn’t going to win him the Most Improved Player award. However, there’s are noticeable differences with Ross on the court. His efficiency is off the chart right now, shooting 50% from the field and 3PT range, and 89% from the line – all career highs by a considerable margin. He’s confident, and making some very difficult shots. As a result, his per 36 scoring output is up a considerable margin given the fact that his minutes are way down due to the logjam at the swingman positions for the Raptors. Further, he’s locked in on defense, posting a strong DRTG, averaging a career high in steals, and is part of the top rated Raptors lineups as a result of his impact on both ends. Ultimately, we are seeing a Terrence Ross with less variance, and he has tweaked himself into a dynamic 6th man that is actually reliable.
The Raptors have a very, very good problem. With DeMar DeRozan having a career year, DeMarre Carroll rounding back into form, Norman Powell always rising to the challenge, Cory Joseph proving to be lethal playing alongside Kyle Lowry, and Ross finally rounding himself out as a player, there are 5 players fighting for the swingman minutes. However, Ross, is always going to get his playing time if he continues to be such a lethal three point shooter, as the resurgence of the three-ball has evolved the Raptors offense from excellent, to unguardable. I would argue that his minutes should be pushed ahead of any of the aforementioned aside from DeRozan. Moreover, Dwane Casey should feel comfortable giving DeRozan less minutes at this point, to ensure the conditioning of the star is maintained heading into the playoffs. With the way the Raptors have been playing on both ends, there isn’t much to really criticize, and having such depth has devastated their opponents.
Perhaps, Ross was undeserving of the majority of the criticism he has received in the past, as he has always been a positive contributor to the team. However, seeing Ross play to his potential certainly can help explain why fans were frustrated with T-Ross, who has become the consistent supplement to the All-Stars that the Raptors have needed. Oh, and his 3 year, 33 million dollar contract that Raptors fans were complaining about? That looks like an absolute bargain.