Terrence Ross still working on finding Orlando Magic rhythm

Mar 22, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic forward Terrence Ross (31) shoots over Charlotte Hornets center Cody Zeller (40) during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 22, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic forward Terrence Ross (31) shoots over Charlotte Hornets center Cody Zeller (40) during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

One month into his Orlando Magic career, shooting guard Terrence Ross is still working on adjusting to a larger role on his new team.

Changing teams midseason can be a jarring event for any NBA player to deal with. Even if you know you are an attractive trade asset or might get waived soon, it is still tough to prepare for everything.

One day, you are here. The next day, you are on a plane to your new city where you must find a place to live, sort through all of the feelings that come with changing teams and all of that.

Not to mention, you have to learn how to play basketball in what might be a completely new system with a bunch of new teammates. A lot of the learning is going to take place with thousands of people watching. And the next game is only a day or two away. The NBA schedule does not wait.

Last month, shooting guard Terrence Ross was traded from the Toronto Raptors (along with one of the Raptors’ first-round draft pick) to the Orlando Magic in exchange for power forward Serge Ibaka.

The transition has been far from smooth as Ross tries to get acquainted to new surroundings and a new role.

Ross loved his time in Toronto, as his Player’s Tribune letter “Thank You, Toronto” demonstrates. He enjoyed representing Canada and helping build Toronto’s enviable professional basketball culture.

Ross, though, has grown accustomed to Orlando in his month with the team.

As for basketball adjustments, it is still a work in progress.

With about a month’s worth of games to look back on, it is apparent Ross is getting a larger role in Orlando (31.3 minutes per game) than he did while playing in Toronto (22.4 minutes per game) behind established All-Stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Coach Frank Vogel told Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel he wants Ross to think of being a scorer, not just a third or fourth option.

In particular, Ross’ versatility is helping unlock some of the small-ball lineups the Magic have been trying to implement at various points this season. As a result, many of his counting stats have seen an uptick.

With Toronto, Ross averaged 10.4 points per game, 2.6 rebounds per game, 0.8 assists per game. In Orlando, Ross is averaging 12.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. Many of those increases could fairly be attributed to his increase in minutes — his points per 36 minutes have actually decreased to 14.2 points per 36 minutes from 16.7 points per 36 minutes in Toronto.

But his actual effectiveness and efficiency so far in Orlando have left something to be desired.

By almost any advanced metric (win shares per 48 minutes, box plus-minus, value over replacement player, player efficiency rating), Ross is playing worse on the Magic than he has at any point since his rookie year, in which he started just two games and played 17 minutes per game, averaging 6.4 points per game.

Before Friday’s 5-for-6 outburst from beyond the arc in a win against the Detroit Pistons, he was shooting just 29.5 percent from downtown in a Magic uniform. He is still shooting well from the line. But he also still gets there very infrequently for someone as athletic as he is Ross takes merely 1.2 free throw attempts per game with Magic compared to 0.9 per game in career.

Ross has had to learn a new role and a new team all on the fly. That adjustment has taken some time.

"“It’s different. It is just another learning curve,” Ross told Orlando Magic Daily before Friday’s game. “One of my first experiences. I’m just learning how to deal with it and how to learn from that. As long as it is what everybody is looking for, that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”"

The aforementioned stats reveal Ross has been struggling some with this new challenge. And Basketball-Reference hints the culprit might be the new diet of shots he is getting with the Magic with coach Frank Vogel.

He is shooting less than half of his shots from three (with inefficient mid-range shots making up a lot of the difference), which he never did after his rookie year in Toronto. When he does get to shoot threes, only 9.1 percent of them are of the juicy corner variety, whereas more than 38 percent of his Toronto threes were from there.

And he is even dunking about half as frequently (as a percentage of his field goal attempts), which means he does not often get to do what makes him most fun to watch.

Synergy also reports more than 17 percent of his possessions now are spent on hand-off plays, whereas only four percent of his Toronto possessions this year were used that way. And his effectiveness on those plays in Toronto was average, at best.

There is just a lot to get used to for Terrence Ross.

That does not mean the Magic should lose faith in him, though. Far from it.

Ross has put in double-figures during each of the last four games on 49 percent shooting from the field and 44.4 percent from deep. His Defensive Box Plus-Minus ratings are higher under Vogel than they have ever been in his career, even if they are still slightly below average.

And do not forget that when Ross gets going, he can get *hot*:

Ross will have a few more moments as this season winds down. And next year, the Magic can reasonably expect those moments will arrive more often. With a summer of development under his belt with the Magic and his new teammates, he should continue some improvement. He seems well-liked by his new teammates and he is too physically gifted to be held down for long.

For now, he is still adjusting to a new city and a new workplace, a daunting challenge for anyone.

Next: Elfrid Payton has the most to prove for the Orlando Magic

Philip Rossman-Reich contributed to this report.