NBA Toronto Raptors

What’s Toronto Raptors Rookie Terrence Ross’ Ceiling?

Terrence Ross Toronto Raptors

Howard Smith – USA Today Sports Images

In the 2012 NBA Draft, the Toronto Raptors surprised a lot of people by selecting Terrence Ross with eighth pick ahead of Andre Drummond. Through a little over half a season, that decision seems a bit questionable.

Drummond, although injured right now, leads rookies in field goal percentage, rebounds per game and Player Efficiency Rating at 22.48. Ross however, ranks 25th among rookies in PER with only a 10.58 rating.

This season, Ross is averaging only 13.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals per-36 minutes, as well as only hitting 40.2 percent of his shots and shooting 33.1 percent from downtown. Those don’t exactly look like numbers that would give the Raptors any kind of hope.

But, those numbers don’t tell the whole story. Ross has shown throughout this entire season that he has elite-level athletic ability that allows him to make plays around the rim and in the open floor, as well as the occasional defensive play.

There’s obvious potential in Ross as an NBA player, but the question is what are the best and worst case scenarios for what he will develop into. To begin to look at that, you have to consider what he’s done well this season and how those skills can develop.

Ross hasn’t been the greatest of defenders. There are numerous instances throughout the year of him making rookie-mistakes, but it’s not a matter of ability. Instead, it’s probably closer to part of Ross’ learning curve in the league. With his length and athleticism, there’s no reason to believe that, with experience, Ross can’t develop into a defensive stopper in years to come.

On the offensive end of the floor, it doesn’t entirely seem like Ross is doing much well considering his insubstantial points per game average and poor shooting percentages. However, when you look at his shooting percentages based on shot location, Ross has actually been quite successful with his mid-range shooting.

Among shooting guards that have played in over 40 games this year, Ross ranks 12th in shooting percentage on shots from 10-15 feet at 46.7 percent and is first in shooting percentage from 3-9 feet at 66.7 percent. When he steps out to 16-23 feet though, he shoots only 28 percent. And, once again, he’s shooting 33.1 percent from beyond-the-arc.

So if he wants to maximize his potential as a pro, he has to focus more on creating either shots at the rim or in the mid-range area, slightly improving his three-point shooting and on clamping down defensively to where he can cause turnovers and create steals. If that were to happen and it were to become the best case scenario, he could average close to 1.2 steals per game, shoot in the near 35 percent from three and shoot in the mid-40s percentage-wise from the floor.

But what if he doesn’t develop those aspects of his game as much? What path is Ross’ career be headed towards if, for instance, if he averages the same 1.2 steals per game and continued to shoot 33 percent from deep and around 40 percent from the field consistently?

That puts him around the same category as Larry Hughes in the context of the NBA. There’s also a place in the league for guys like Hughes, as evidenced by his 14-year career. However, if Ross were to end up in a mold of Hughes, it would probably be a disappointment.

For the Raptors, if they want the best case scenario for Ross, they need to focus his offense more on his mid-range game and on open looks from deep. They also need to work with him on his defensive rotations and positioning.

It’s doubtful that Ross is going to be a superstar, but there is definitely a place for him in the NBA.

Cody Williams is a Senior NBA Writer with Rant Sports. Follow Cody on Twittter @TheSizzle20 and like his Facebook page.