Terrence Ross' recent play has many now understanding why the Raptors drafted him in the first place. He is a dynamic athlete, good size, long and lanky, good defensive instincts, with a smooth and quick release. While many saw him as a "3 and D" type player, Ross is playing at a level that suggests he may even be a future All-Star at some point. Let's take a closer look at the former Washington Husky.
His greatest asset on offense is without a doubt his ability to shoot the ball and he does it extremely well. For players who have played a minimum of 15 games Ross is in the top 25 in a lot of shooting categories. He makes 1.6 3s a game off of catch and shoots, and does it at 45.9%. On any catch and shoot situation his eFG% is 67.4%, which is top 20 in the NBA; for perspective Wesley Matthews comes in at 70%. What this really says about Ross is not only can he shoot but he is taking good shots. With the new understanding of how valuable the three pointer is, Ross's ability to shoot it well, at a high percentage, and at a high volume is extremely valuable. His fellow Raptor on the wing, Demar Derozan, comes in shooting a FG% on catch and shoots of 41.4% which is not far behind Ross's 45.9%, however, his eFG% is 50.3% which is dramatically lower than Ross's; the reason being he shoots "the 3," so much more poorly than Ross.
Through 30 games this year Ross has scored 277 points and out of those 277, 144 points have been off of 3 pointers, which works out to about 52%. Out of those 3 pointers he is averaging 1.6 makes a game on catch and shoot, which accounts for all of his 3 pointers; meaning over half of his points this year are on catch and shoot three pointers. Kyle Lowry on the other hand has made 2.3 three pointers a game this year, however 1.5 of them come on catch and shoots; meaning that over 33% of his three pointers are not of the "catch and shoot" variety. (Note to Raptors' Coach, Dwane Casey; Lowry shoots 46.5% on catch and shoot threes versus 29.8% on pull up threes...)
Since the Rudy Gay trade however, Ross's numbers have seen a huge increase. He is averaging 2.4 threes made a game, 14ppg, 3.8rpg, 1apg, 0.8spg, 0.25 bpg and 1.7 turnovers a game while shooting 45.6%. While the numbers are good, especially regarding his efficiency and ability to shoot the long-range shot, there is one limitation to his game that is concerning, and that is his lack of ability to get to the rim.
Since the trade he has only attempted 10 free throws.
This season Terrence Ross has driven to the hoop 37 times, which is in the same range as John Salmons, Darius Morris, Luke Ridnour and Draymond Green. (A drive consists of any touch that starts 20 feet from the hoop and is dribbled to within 10 feet of the hoop excluding fast breaks.) Ray Allen has driven to the hoop 73 times this year and I would not think he is as athletic as Ross. (For the rest of the stats I will be using a filter with a minimum of 30 drives on the season.)
What becomes more concerning is his shooting percentage on those drives, 35.7%. That percentage puts him at 152 out of 184 for players with at least 30 drives on the season and he is 164 out of 184 for points scored a game on drives. While that is concerning what is even more telling is the fact that the Raptors only get a single point a game as a team, off drives by Terrence Ross, putting him nearly dead last (179 out of 184) out of qualified players. That means that his drives don't result in free throws for himself or assists for team mates.
Now without a doubt the argument could be made that these numbers for the season don't reflect his new found freedom in the offence. However, since the trade he has scored 154 points and made 29 three pointers for 87 points; meaning that 56% of his points are off of catch and shoot three pointers, an even higher percentage than before the trade. So while Ross may have found more freedom this is not resulting in him making more plays to the hoop, It's simply meant more catch and shoot situations.
While defence is much harder to gauge, Ross is currently sporting a DRtg of 105, which is close to average for the league and puts him into the company of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. However, what is interesting is that with Ross on the floor the Raptors allow 104.5 points per 100 possessions and with him off they allow 107.1 points per 100 possessions. The Raptors are a +13 with him on the court and -9 with him off the court.
What the eye sees is confirmed by the stats with Ross, he has improved defensively and is now starting to use his athletic tools to make a positive impact on the defensive end. There is no reason he cannot be an elite wing defender in this league. His job on Paul George recently bears this out, however, he is not quite there yet and still makes the mistakes of a young player. However, on offence he is limited to being an elite catch and shoot player.
There is nothing wrong with that but as noted earlier, right now he is severely lacking in his ability to make plays off the dribble. Not only does he not do it well, he does not do it very frequently. While this could be a positive because he isn't forcing his game and causing a lot of turnovers, it also shows his tendencies. Young players who turn in to all-star level play makers tend to have a lot of turnovers when they begin their careers because they force drives. When players don't have that ability it is a lot more difficult to add to their games. Paul George had the ability to drive and create and has now added a jump shot. This isn't an attempt so much as to compare the two but it is a lot easier to teach a jump shot than develop the instincts needed to drive and create off the bounce, this late in the game.
A good example of this is the San Antonio Spurs' Danny Green. This year teams have adapted to Green, and while he still has huge games here and there, he is becoming much more inconsistent and has even lost his starting spot to former Raptor Marco Belinelli. With Ross what you see is what you get, he has the potential to be an elite 3 and D man, which can be a huge part of the success of any team, but his inability to make plays off the dribble will severely hinder his chances of being more than that. Without a doubt he can develop these skills but I worry that it is not the type of player he is.
However, what Ross has shown is the ability to be an elite catch and shoot player at the level of Klay Thompson, something the Dinos should be able to harness as part of their offensive repertoire for years to come. And defensively, he promises to provide much more than Thompson due to his length, quickness, and athletic ability. With these two pieces in tow, the Toronto Raptors look to have a very nice piece for the future and if he can continue to add to his game, fans may not be looking back at the 2012 NBA Draft as the "we didn't pickt Drummond draft."
Future All-Star we'll have to wait and see on, but regardless, Ross' development this season is incredibly encouraging for the future of the Toronto Raptors.