Join Date: Jan 2009
RealGM-Terrence Ross Keying Raptors' Ascent, Reason For Optimism
RealGM Blog: Terrence Ross Keying Raptors
Ascent Reason For Optimism
When Terrence Ross broke his commitment with Maryland and signed with Washington in 2010, it looked like the start of something big for the Huskies. A super-athletic four-star guard from Portland, he was a huge get for Lorenzo Romarís program, which kept him in the Pacific Northwest, beating out schools like Kansas, Kentucky and Oregon for him. While Ross hadnít played a lot of AAU basketball, his talent made him a national prize in recruiting.
However, unlike many highly-rated freshman in this era of one-and-done basketball, Ross had to pay his dues when he got to Seattle. The Huskies started two senior guards with NBA potential, Isaiah Thomas and Justin Holiday, and had a slew of other underclassmen -- Abdul Gaddy, CJ Wilcox and Scott Suggs -- who needed minutes too. As a result, Ross played only 18 minutes a game, averaging eight points, three rebounds and one assist on 44 percent shooting.
With Thomas and Holiday graduating, Ross moved into the starting line-up as a sophomore. However, the arrival of highly touted freshman point guard Tony Wroten meant Ross would not have the opportunity to dominate the ball at Washington. Instead, he spent most of the season playing off the ball, watching Wroten do his best Tyreke Evans imitation. Ross averaged 16 points and six rebounds a game on 46 percent shooting, but never broke out on the national stage.
Coming into the draft, while he was well-regarded by many talent evaluators, his name never rung out among even hardcore NBA fans. After Florida made a run to the Elite Eight, freshman Bradley Beal was widely seen as the top 2-guard available. Ross had less profile than Austin Rivers, who played for Duke, had a famous father and hit a buzzer-beater over Tyler Zeller on national TV. Ross was just another name in one of the best crops of SGís in many years.
The Toronto Raptors selected him at No. 8 in 2012, one of the more anonymous lottery picks in a star-studded draft. Ross didnít make a huge splash in Summer League, so not much was expected of him as a rookie. Playing behind veterans like DeMar DeRozan, Alan Anderson and Landry Fields, he wasnít afforded the chance to play significant minutes right away. After the Raptors acquired Rudy Gay at mid-season, his role shrunk even further.
Ross finished his rookie season with averages of six points and two rebounds on 41 percent shooting, hardly numbers that indicated future stardom. His biggest splash came when he won the Dunk Contest, but without any statistics to back it up, most fans saw him as another super-athletic flash in the pan, if they noticed him at all. As a result, Ross came into his second season an unknown commodity, a lottery pick with the profile of a late first-rounder.
Not much changed at the start of this season, as Gay and DeRozan took turns boss-hogging the ball in historic fashion. The low point was probably an early November loss to the Houston Rockets, when Gay took 37 shots and DeRozan fired up 25. Ross, meanwhile, had an efficient nine points on 4-for-6 shooting -- the story of his first 14 months in Toronto. Itís almost impossible for a shooting guard who canít get minutes or touches to affect a game, one way or the other.
For Ross, everything changed when the Raptors shipped off Gay in early December. All of a sudden, he was moved into the starting line-up, getting as many shots and minutes as he could handle. The team clicked immediately. After going 6-12 with Gay as the primary option, Toronto is 19-9 with Ross as a starter, with wins against Oklahoma City, Dallas, Indiana, Chicago, Brooklyn and New York. Just like that, the Raptors became a team on the rise.
In the three games following his explosion, Ross has taken only 33 shots, an indication of where he is in the Toronto pecking order. However, thereís only so long a guy with his ability can be held down. Heís a complete guard with the ability to score, shoot, pass, rebound and defend, a starter and two-way contributor on one of the best teams in the NBA. Most impressive of all, heís still only 22. He should be a senior in college, the same as Doug McDermott.
Over the last generation, many of the leagueís best shooting guard prospects have been undone by getting too much too soon. Ross has been the exact opposite, an All-NBA talent forced to pay his dues and learn the game at every stop of the way. Now after a three-year apprenticeship, he is starting to come into his own. In three years, when heís 25, he will be one of the best SGís in the NBA. Heís Paul George in 2011, a young role player on the cusp of stardom.
Gets a little too optimistic at the end but thought it good for a couple of laughs.