Grantland: Is Ross ready to make the playoff leap?
Old 04-11-2014, 05:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Grantland: Is Ross ready to make the playoff leap?

Last year, Harrison Barnes, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George put on spellbinding, ceiling-raising postseason performances. They made The Playoff Leap. This was small-sample-size theater taking place on the biggest stage. That quartet of players has gone on to varying degrees of success and regression this season, but they all have one thing in common: They made their names in the playoffs.

This year, Toronto Raptors swingman Terrence Ross is the ideal candidate to join them. Ross has already mastered his role as sidekick to the sidekick on one of the leagueís most enjoyable teams, and now heís ready for more. His diverse skill set fills every moment with boundless excitement. His potential to energize everyone watching is enormous. If Ross makes a leap, itíll fill the edges of nearly every conversation held by NBA aficionados throughout the offseason. And itís something you wonít want to miss.

Most League PassĖless NBA fans know Ross from his Drake dunk at All-Star Weekend, or maybe from a GIF of the Raptors swingman showing off his lucrative athleticism with a cutthroat jumper.

In his second season, the 23-year-old Ross nearly doubled his points per game and punched his True Shooting percentage from 49.1 to 55.6 percent. He has started every game but one since Toronto traded Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings back in early December, and is knocking down 40.2 percent of his 3s ó more than half his field goal attempts come from behind the arc ó in those 58 games.

Rossís shooting form looks like a leisurely snake attack. Itís deceptively fast, and the ball flies from his fingertips. In late January, he made a name for himself scoring 51 points (30 of which came off of 10 3-pointers) against the Los Angeles Clippers. (No article can be written about Ross without mentioning this performance. It was a magic show that fell from the sky.)

Thereíve been others, too: like when he went 6-for-8 behind the arc in just 26 minutes against the Kings. Ross has scored more points off catch-and-shoot field goals than LaMarcus Aldridge, Serge Ibaka, and Bradley Beal this season, and is more accurate on catch-and-shoot 3s (42.3 percent) than Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Love, and Joe Johnson, per SportVU.

He most often attacks off a screen, and does a great job identifying when itís right to curl up from the baseline or fade into the corner, reading whoeverís chasing him like thereís eyes in the back of his head. Itís an understated but necessary skill for shooters to get the clean looks they need, but hardly what makes him most special. Watch how he (barely) eludes George here.

Ross 3 - YouTube

With Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, and Greivis Vasquez handling the ball so often, Ross hasnít been asked to create too much off the dribble. But heís shown hints of being a stellar in-between option someday. He already has a wonderful feel for the midrange floater, one of basketballís trickiest shots. Ross turns the ball into a round teddy bear on those; it hugs the rim before safely plopping through. Happy.

But he wonít shine until heís starting plays, too. He has 72 assists and 80 turnovers on the entire season. These numbers need to be placed in the aforementioned context of Toronto already having better facilitators than Ross handle the ball, but that doesnít make them any less terrible.

Still, we see solid split-second decision-making every now and then. Watch him Medusa Roy Hibbert with a beautiful no-look bounce pass to Jonas Valanciunas.

Ross assist - YouTube
Is Terrence Ross Ready to Make the Playoff Leap?
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