Unbelievable athleticism, a reliable three-point stroke, and impressive length.
These are some of the characteristics you could use to describe Terrence Ross, the Toronto Raptors' first-round pick (eighth overall) in the 2012 draft. As witnessed by his 51-point performance in his sophomore season, the potential is certainly there for the 24-year-old to be a legitimate NBA talent.
That being said, Ross has yet to put together a consistent year at the professional level, leaving the coaching staff and fans alike frustrated. The tools are there, he just hasn't been able to put it all together on this stage.
A starter for the majority of the past two seasons, Ross will shift to a bench role after the Raptors added DeMarre Carroll in the offseason. Perhaps playing with the second unit will help Ross reach the high potential we've seen glimpses of.
Here is what Toronto will need from its young swingman in 2015-16:
After ranking 23rd in defensive efficiency, which must have horrified Dwane Casey, the Raptors brought in a number of defence-first players over the summer. Gone are reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams and Greivis "I never met a shot I didn't like" Vasquez. That's a giant gut-punch to the reserves when it comes to points, so Ross will presumably have to fill the void in that regard. For his career, he has averaged 9.1 points per game and the Raptors will be looking for more out of him this season as the top scoring option off the bench.
More Versatile Offensive Repertoire:
Ross has made his mark as a three-point shooter to this point in his career, with some sensational dunks sprinkled in for good measure. He has shot the ball at a 37-percent clip from beyond the arc, which forces defenders to play him tight. This season, the Washington product will need to expand his game and put the ball on the floor with more frequency. We have seen glimpses of what Ross can do off the dribble, and the results were positive. If he can prove to be more than just a catch-and-shoot guy, he will be able to put more pressure on defenders.
Speaking of pressuring defences, nothing fits the bill like driving to the basket. Despite his freakish athleticism, Ross has struggled to get to the free-throw line early in his career, which severely limits his game. The Oregon native shoots nearly 80 percent from the charity stripe, but gets there less than once per game. We have seen how DeMar DeRozan can punish opponents with his ability to rack up free-throw attempts and if Ross can start driving the lane with more frequency he could be primed for a big year.
More Activity on the Glass:
Coming in at a listed six-foot-seven with super-elite jumping ability, Ross has averaged about three rebounds per night over the past two campaigns. That's fine for a prototypical two-guard, but the Raptors will hope for somewhere around five boards from him on a nightly basis. If that comes to fruition, there will be a number of highlight-reel rebounds being grabbed at the Air Canada Centre. Watching Ross soar above the rim to clean up the glass is a sight to behold.
Finally, a player with the coveted combination of length and quickness should make for a reliable defender. That was the case in Ross's first two years in the league as he tried to establish himself as a "3-and-D" player. Unfortunately, he took a step back in 2014-15, posting a defensive rating of 107.7 — up more than four points from the previous season. With the team stressing defence, look for Ross to bounce back on that side of the ball.
What do you guys think?