Terrence Ross comes into his own in larger role with Orlando Magic

Apr 8, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic forward Terrence Ross (31) takes a shot in the second half as Indiana Pacers guard Aaron Brooks (00) defends at Amway Center. Indiana Pacers won 127-112. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 8, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic forward Terrence Ross (31) takes a shot in the second half as Indiana Pacers guard Aaron Brooks (00) defends at Amway Center. Indiana Pacers won 127-112. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports /

Terrence Ross‘ career is full of inconsistency and false starts. In his 20-plus games with the Orlando Magic, he has begun to come into his own.

On the first play of Saturday’s game against the Indiana Pacers, Terrence Ross came around a screen and received a pass. In an instant, Ross rose up and fired. The shot fell through the bottom of the net with ease.

The next play, he did it again, swishing the shot as easily as he made the first. The quick release and smooth jumper remain a ballet of athleticism and precision. It is what makes Ross so unique and so difficult to guard.

It is also part of what makes him so frustrating. Ross can make shooting and scoring look so easy. And yet, there are times when it does not come that way.

"“I’m just playing my game,” Ross told Orlando Magic Daily after Saturday’s game. “Just going up shooting, trying to play within the system and get going early. You just play the game regardless. Whether you make the first shot or not, you don’t let that deter you from playing your style of basketball. That’s how you get into a slump. The more I play my game, the more I take my shots, the more consistent I get.”"

The story of Ross’ career is a mixture of the 29-point, 10-for-17 shooting performance against the Pacers and the five-point, 2-for-6 shooting performance he had in a half against the Brooklyn Nets or the 12-point, 5-for-14 performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

His Toronto Raptors coach, Dwane Casey, quipped when the Orlando Magic visited the Air Canada Centre that Ross finished his 51-point performance with a six-point game. He actually scored 10 points. That inconsistency has defined his career.

The Magic acquired him in the deal that sent Serge Ibaka to the Raptors. Orlando was not expecting him to become a superstar overnight. Ross gave the Magic something they needed in his shooting and ability to work off screens. He afforded the Magic more space to operate their offense.

The 29-point outbursts are not rare occasions, but that is not the expectation for him. Instead about what he is averaging seems to be the kind of progress the Magic want to see. Ross has found a comfortable fit and his inconsistency is becoming less and less pronounced.

"“Terrence has been great since the day he stepped foot in this building on both ends of the floor,” coach Frank Vogel told Orlando Magic Daily after Saturday’s loss. “Offensively, really carrying the load for us. He is capable of getting hot like we saw tonight. He’s very versatile on the offensive end. He is a shooter that can make plays off the bounce. You can use him in the pick and roll, you can use him off screens. He attacks in the open court. He can attack with the basketball in the open court and finish off the basketball. He was a great pickup for us midseason.”"

Ross is averaging 13.4 points per game since joining the Magic. He is shooting 43.5 percent from the floor and 34.8 percent from beyond the arc. His scoring and field goal shooting would be career highs if taken for the entire season. His 3-point shooting certainly could stand for some improvement, but the Magic still rely on him as a 3-point threat.

Ross is still adjusting to his new role. He is a full-time starter for the first time in his career. And with the Magic’s egalitarian offense, sometimes it is his turn to step forward. Sometimes it is not. And that seems to suit Ross and his narrative fine.

Ross had a seven-game stretch in March where he scored at least 10 points, an encouraging sign of his consistency. Certainly, he has to continue scoring at a consistent clip to establish himself.

If anything, the Magic need to ensure he stays involved when he does get things going. Ross scored 19 points in a loss to the Charlotte Hornets, but he rarely touched the ball in the fourth quarter.

"“Terrence is very streaky,” Evan Fournier told Orlando Magic Daily after Saturday’s loss. “That’s probably the biggest thing for him. When he makes the first one, you know it is going to be a good night for him. He really had it going in the first quarter so we kept feeding him. He had a great game offensively. The fact that he is a shooter opens up a lot of things.”"

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

Ross can get cooking pretty quickly. That much has been made clear in his 22 games with the Magic so far. And that has been part of what the Magic wanted to explore in these last games.

Since joining the Magic, Ross is taking 11.8 field goal attempts per game. That would be the most of his career. His usage rate with the Magic is 19.0 percent, in line with his career averages in recent years. Ross has just had more opportunity and the Magic have worked to get him more shots.

That has been the biggest difference.

The novelty of taking more shots and being more involved is wearing off for Ross. The Magic have struggled since his arrival in the win column. He is over not playing in the Playoff with his former team, but he is hungry to win with this group like everyone else is.

"“It’s fun,” Ross told Orlando Magic Daily of taking more shots and being more involved in the offense. “That’s what you want to play. I’m enjoying it. I’m frustrated we aren’t getting wins out of it. I’m getting over taking more shots and worrying about how we’re going to win.”"

Ross has become more comfortable with his role with the Magic. And he is beginning to find some level of consistency.

He may not dominate games offensively like he did Saturday all the time. But the Magic are continuing to rely on him and are seeing some dividends as the season reaches its conclusion.

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There are still the occasional duds from Ross, but he has started to come into his own with the larger role in Orlando.