Can Terrence Ross Crack Toronto’s Rotation?
It was a surprise when the Toronto Raptors took Terrence Ross eighth overall at the NBA Draft in June, but after hearing head coach Dwane Casey’s explanation, the pick made sense for Toronto. Casey had scouted Ross personally before last year’s lockout-shortened season got underway and the young wing had exceeded expectations during his sophomore season at Washington.
As Casey explained, Ross had an NBA-ready skill: shooting.
A solid deep threat in college, Ross has NBA three-point range and a smooth stroke with a high release. Casey had specifically requested that the Raptors add more shooters this summer. Unfortunately for Ross, Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo honored Casey’s request in spades. The Raptors added several players who can knock down threes including Kyle Lowry, John Lucas III and Landry Fields – if he can find his rookie shooting form. Add in the return of three-point shooting wing Alan Anderson and the likelihood of sharpshooter Jose Calderon finding additional minutes in a two point guard lineup, and Ross’ opportunities to use his skill were under threat from day one. This Raptors’ training camp and preseason has been very competitive.
“Competing from Jose and Kyle, to me and DeMar [DeRozan], to Amir [Johnson] and [Andrea] Bargnani, we are competing all the way across the board,” Anderson said. “It is a big difference [from last year] because guys are actually trying to [help] each other get better and want to play and prove that they can play.”
“It is a process for a rookie,” Casey said. “He is not that far behind because the one thing he can do that makes up for a multitude of sins is he can shoot the ball at the end of the day and that’s part of the process too. The other part is you just can’t make a three and give up a three at the other end every possession. He is learning, believe me. This doesn’t mean Terrence Ross is not going to play for us or not a part of it. He is going to be big for us. He is our future, but right now he is just a typical rookie and you could stop every play for him [to teach]. He is learning.”
The wing who has caught everyone’s eye in Toronto this preseason is Anderson. Anderson has been solid at both ends of the court and on a team with playoff aspirations, there is no room to sacrifice victories in order to provide playing time to rookies.
“[Anderson] is a solid pro,” Casey said. “He is a man and it’s a man’s league. He comes out and brings a solid effort. He is where he is supposed to be all the time. Nothing fancy, nothing flashy. He just goes about his job and that is what you respect about him and that is why he is back here.
“He is tested. He knows who he is, which is comforting as a coach when a guy goes in and he knows what he is supposed to do and who he is and not going through the wars for the first time. Now we just have to get Terrence up to speed to perform like that each and every day and be consistent with it. And he will. Terrence is a talented, talented young man and his upside is off the charts. He just has to get up to speed on the NBA right now.”
It is going to be tough for Ross to crack Casey’s rotation early on and the rookie will probably have to prove his worth in practice and during those occasional blowout games when playing him will not affect the outcome. It is not a lack of talent that will be holding him back as nearly everyone acknowledges the kid’s potential, but Casey is in the business of winning games this season and Ross will have to earn his coach’s confidence in order to get meaningful minutes.