Ross continued to show flashes of his upside with an impressive fourth quarter performance against the Orlando Magic. The Raptors entered the quarter up 71-63 and with Orlando making repeated runs to try and take the lead Ross would have an answer, swinging the momentum back in Toronto’s favor.
After the Magic had brought things within three with just under 10 minutes remaining, Ed Davis attempted to stop the run with a drive to the basket. His shot off the glass rimmed out and after J.J. Redick failed to block out Ross, the rookie leaped into the air and slammed home the ball for a thunderous put-back jam.
On Orlando’s next offensive possession, Ross continued to own Redick after the sharpshooter attempted to get a quick shot over the Raptors guard. Ross blocked Redick’s three-pointer attempt and the ball landed halfway to the net, right into the hands of Amir Johnson sending Toronto out in transition.
Unfortunately the two big plays weren’t enough to keep Orlando down as the team refused to go away. After the Magic had again brought things close, Ross drained his third three-pointer of the contest sending the momentum back into his team’s favor. He wasn’t done yet as once again he out worked Redick, this time beating him to a pass intended for the Orlando guard.
Ross jumped in front of the pass attempt, intercepting the ball as Redick stood and watched the rookie take off to the basket. After the steal, Ross ran down the court leaping into the air for his second impactful dunk of the quarter, this time a windmill jam.
Coach Dwane Casey showed how much confidence he had in the team’s pick last June by leaving the player out there in the final minute of action. With the team protecting a three-point lead with under a minute to go, Ross rewarded his coach’s confidence by coming up with a big steal to help secure the 93-90 victory.
The 6-foot-6 guard began the season seeing limited action but with the team suffering injuries to key players, Ross has stepped up and displayed why the team drafted him.
He was known mostly for his defense upon being drafted but struggled early adjusting to the speed of the NBA game. Now nearly two months into the season, the rookie appears to have figured things out.
His athleticism has surprised a lot of fans with the way he’s been able to slam home electrifying dunks. He’s also shown he isn’t afraid to shoot the ball after receiving it as he’s displayed his quick trigger release and long distance range after coming off screens. There is no hesitation or lack of confidence when Ross decides to shoot.
His reputation as a defender in college has also been on display in recent games with the way the guard has been working his tail off on the defensive end. His constant hustle and attempts to stay in front of his man have often left Ross looking exhausted towards the end of games. Still, his athleticism and quickness aren’t only impactful on offense given his steals and block in the fourth quarter against Orlando.
Casey clearly knew something about Ross the rest of the NBA didn’t, given the moment David Stern called his name with the Toronto pick the selection was immediately questioned. With names like Austin Rivers, Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb still available, Toronto fans wondered if they had made the right choice.
However, with Casey making his offseason home in Seattle, Washington and being good friends with Ross’ college coach, Lorenzo Romar, clearly he knew who the team was drafting. Despite Ross averaging 16.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.3 steals as a sophomore with the Washington Huskies, he wasn’t given much attention as a lottery pick. Toronto ignored the bigger names remaining on the board and decided to go with the player their coach knew about from watching first hand in his backyard. Having plenty of time on his hands during the first months of last year’s lockout, Casey was able to keep a close eye on how his frend’s team was doing.
Given the potential upside the 8th overall selection has displayed with less than two months into the season, it’s looking like the Raptors are the ones that hit the lottery.