The roller coaster ride of Terrence Ross' career continues. Last fall, there was much speculation whether the Raptors would give Ross an extension, or leave him as a free agent to potentially clear significant cap room this summer. Lo and behold, Ross was signed to a 3 year, $31 million extension that starts at $10 million this summer. This was an interesting move, for a player that had been at once so promising and so frustrating in his time here.
Last season (2014-15) was a disappointment in many ways for Ross. Following up a very successful 2013-14 season, he had earned the full time starting SF spot. And quickly proved that he did not belong there defensively. With his smaller build and lack of physicality in his game, he was bullied up and down the court all season long, resulting in a team-worst on-court defensive rating (among the regular contributors).
And yet he showed his value offensively at the same time -- he shot 37% from three point range, and had the highest on-court eFG% on the team, enough to raise his on-court net rating to +1.1 in spite of the defensive issues.
Nonetheless, in the off-season a big priority was grabbing a big SF who could guard opposing wings. Enter DeMarre Carroll.
This relegated Ross to a bench role, in theory to the offensive spark plug role vacated by Lou Williams last summer.
And he found more success in this role. His 3PT% was up to 39%. His defence looked better for the most part, whether it be because of a smaller, more defined role or being able to play primarily against bench players, and it resulted in him having one of the best on-court defensive ratings on the team (behind only Joseph and tied with Patterson and Biyombo).
Part of that success is playing so much with the bench lineups that incorporated one of the team's all-stars, which became a primary weapon for the team this season. His two most used lineups this season (by far) were the Lowry plus bench lineup and the DeMar plus bench lineup, which had net ratings of +16.4 and +13.7 respectively.
And those lineups were a big part of the reason for the Raptors' success this year.
In the meantime, while Ross' shooting percentage from three went up, and his defence was less disastrous, he produced less across the board in other measures. He had the lowest rebounding rate of his career, the lowest assist rate, and carried the lowest usage yet. Which is a long way of saying he didn't really step into that Lou Williams role envisioned for him by the team.
But, all in all, Ross delivered the best all around season he has ever played, with career highs in WS/48, TS% (practically tied with his second season), and a career low turnover rate.
And then the playoffs hit.
You should always be careful about using the playoffs as a hard and fast measure - it is a small sample of games, against an even smaller sample of teams.
But Ross, for the most part, disappeared. Below 33% from 3, 49% TS%, and a team worst (non-Luis Scola division) -17 on-court net rating. And that (along with the emergence of Norman Powell in a similar role) puts some serious questions into play about his future with the team.
April 13th, 2016 vs Brooklyn Nets
It was the last game of the season, and the Raptors sat everyone, giving bench players and young guys a chance to prove they could step into bigger roles (or roles at all).
And Ross sure stepped up. He put up quite an impressive line carrying a lot of the offence -- he put up 24 points on 21 shots, including going 5 for 12 from the three point line. Add in 10 rebounds, 2 assists, a block and no turnovers in 28 minutes and you get the most complete game of the year for Ross.
The fact that it came in a meaningless game against one of the worst teams in the league...
May 17, 2016 vs Cleveland Cavaliers
And on the other side of the page, his worst game probably came in the Eastern Conference Finals. Game 1 of the ECF, going into Cleveland, and Ross was a complete non-entity. He shot 1 for 5 in 18 minutes, scoring 4 points, grabbing one rebound and turning it over once as his only box score contributions. And the team absolutely fell apart with him on the court - he was a -23 in his 18 minutes in a game the team lost by 31.
Strengths and Weaknesses
+ Good shooter, particularly from three point range
+ Good fit with most effective lineups
+ Occasional bouts of good defence
- Inconsistent performance
- Overall defensive shortcomings
Role Next Season
Who knows? Is he on the team next year? If he is, he'll remain that floor spacing threat off the bench, but he'll see his minutes eaten up a bit by the emergence of Powell.
A Gif to Sum it All Up