After ankle surgery to start the 2015 off-season, Toronto Raptors fans should be hoping for a healthy Terrence Ross to return and fill the void of Sixth Man. He’ll be coming back to the Raptors rotation in a new role for a number of reasons. The most obvious one is the off-season acquisition of DeMarre Carroll, a 3-D type player that is clearly an improvement at the small forward position.
Ross’ potential as an athletic wing is yet to be fully proven, especially after last season’s regression that found him playing minutes off the bench. Raptors coach Dwane Casey should now be able to play Ross in a more consistent role, where he can adjust to becoming a Sixth Man.
The adjustment might take a while, considering his 2014-15 numbers. When Ross played as a starter, he attempted more shots and held a higher field goal percentage compared to when coming off the bench. As a starter Ross also took a higher percentage of his shots behind the three-point line, and was 28.6 percent better from the free throw-line, according to NBA.com
Confidence may be what’s holding Ross back, even though he is a Slam Dunk Champion and has recorded a 51 point game in the sports’ strongest league. However, what many athletes face problems with is the certainty of their role and task on a team, which impacts their level of performance. With Ross now coming off the bench, he’ll have his respectable number of minutes to be able to use his skill set in a role that would suit him best; to shoot the lights out.
Last season, reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams did just that coming off the bench for the Toronto Raptors. He was fantastic, and proved to be a huge difference maker on the offensive end. In his role, that had him playing less minutes than Ross as a starter, he shot the ball more, had a lower shooting percentage, but still scored almost 6 points more per contest.
Playing on the second-line will also afford Ross a chance to play against a lower level of competition. As a starter, Ross would usually be faced with too much of a defensive task than he could handle. Of course he holds talent on that end of the floor, but the energy required to stay in-front of players like a Lebron James definetly takes it’s toll. Instead, he’ll be able to guard players that produce far less, and now have an advantage when scoring the basketball.
Ross should be looking to take over this role, especially with Raptors GM Masai Ujiri expressing an interest for a contract extension, which displays a supportive attitude for the four year pro. This is also a wise move considering the money Ross could be offered come his time as a free agent next summer. Not to mention, a contract extension would also increase his trade value when negotiating with teams that are hoping for roster certainty. Perhaps, a trade involving a not so happy Markieff Morris of the Phoenix Suns?
But for now, it’s simple to understand that the Raptors’ 2012 lottery pick isn’t a player that you come across everyday. His previously mentioned accolades, along with a 37.5 inch max vertical, and being a career 37.3 percent three-point marksman, are only signs for more things to come. And with the Toronto Raptors hoping for another winning season, Ross’ further growth as a impactful wing player, and soon to be Sixth Man will only do them better.