Without DeMar DeRozan‘s emergence as one of the NBA‘s top 10 scorers this season, it’s doubtful that the Toronto Raptors would currently be headed for the playoffs. However, the contributions from those around him will be what makes the difference in the postseason.
It isn’t as if the Raptors are stocked with a multitude of scoring options outside of DeRozan and point guard Kyle Lowry, and that’s where Terrence Ross comes in.
Now a ‘sophomore’ in the NBA, Ross spent the majority of his first year-and-a-half in the league building a reputation as little more than one of the most entertaining dunk artists in all of basketball. Midway into this season however, Ross began to carve out a role with the Raptors as a dangerous offensive weapon capable of much more than crowd-pleasing finishes.
Chosen eighth overall in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Raptors took Ross only one pick ahead of center Andre Drummond, who was selected by the Detroit Pistons. But after a rookie year that featured a disappointing 6.4 PPG in 17 minutes of playing time, Raptor Nation rightfully began to wonder if the team had another Joey Graham situation on their collective hands.
The current campaign didn’t begin with much more promise for Ross, and aside from a few SportsCenter-worthy slams during trash time, he averaged only 6.4 PPG and had just three games with more than 10 points in the month of November. But in the same way that the Raptors started a new chapter the day that Rudy Gay left town, Ross also found new life and immediately increased his offensive output to 11.6 PPG in December while Toronto began its climb towards respectability.
On January 25, Ross got the league’s undivided attention by dropping 51 points in a home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers that stunned those in attendance. It included a 10-of-17 shooting performance from beyond the arc.
But despite a solid finish to the month of February that the 23-year old has continued into March, inconsistency and a habit of statistically disappearing at times has resulted in some less-than-impressive outings throughout the second half of the season. Against the pesky Brooklyn Nets for example, Ross has struggled with a high of just 14 points, and hasn’t done much of anything else to warrant the 30-plus minutes of floor time he’s received in their last three meetings.
Clearly more than just a perennial contestant in the dunk contest, Ross remains as Toronto’s lone scoring option at guard with the exceptions of Lowry and DeRozan. Beyond his ability to score however, the Raptors need Ross to make his presence felt in other facets of the game in order to maximize his potential. Otherwise, the talented young guard will be of little use when his team needs him the most against the best that the Eastern Conference has to offer.
Ty is a writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @abovethefoldty