Terrence Ross deserved Sixth Man of the Year Award attention

The legend of Terrence Ross was born with a game-winning shot against the Philadelphia 76ers. (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
The legend of Terrence Ross was born with a game-winning shot against the Philadelphia 76ers. (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Terrence Ross will not be part of the NBA Award ceremonies. He was snubbed for Sixth Man of the Year Award attention. An attention he deserved.

Terrence Ross has always been fairly quiet off the court.

He posts plenty on social media, sharing some of his workouts in the Amway Center at odd hours or the latest video of his kids. He is not the most private person, but he has a quiet way about the way he approaches the game.

Terrence Ross is not one to stand up and shout his own exploits — aside from a photo of himself, DeMar DeRozan and Dwane Casey wearing Toronto Raptors jerseys after his former team won the title.

He wants to be a team player. That is why so many of his former teammates appreciate him. It is why so many Orlando Magic fans quickly came to appreciate Ross despite an up-and-down run with the team after the trade and a season lost to injury.

Ross is hard not to like.

Then he lets his play do the talking. His big-shot making throughout the season was a big boost to a team trying to push its way into the playoffs for the first time in seven years. That only endeared him even more.

Ross’ impact went beyond his 15.1 points per game on 38.3 percent 3-point shooting. He was the team’s closer in a lot of ways, coming off the bench in every game but often getting the big moment when the game got tight. The Magic valued his offensive spacing.

But you will not see Ross at the NBA Awards Show tonight. Ross, despite setting a NBA record for most 3-pointers made by a player who exclusively came off the bench, was not among the finalists for the Sixth Man of the Year Award.

That honor went to Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell and Domantas Sabonis. Williams will likely take home the award. And no one will argue that.

But even months after the season ended and the top three were announced, there are some disappointment and a bit of frustration that Ross was not among the finalists.

He absolutely deserved to be among the finalists for the award. No player really embodied what it meant to be a sixth man quite like Ross.

Among players who played at least 41 games this season off the bench, Ross ranked fourth in scoring average with his 15.1 points per game. Only Lou Williams, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jordan Clarkson and Montrezl Harrell averaged more points per game off the bench. Two of the finalists are in that list.

Among that same group of players, Ross finished fourth in defensive win shares, according to NBA.com’s stats database. He finished behind Domantas Sabonis, George Hill and Cory Joseph in that category.

Ross was a closer for the Magic too — the ultimate sign for a Sixth Man. Among bench players who played in at least 20 games with clutch situations, Ross ranked fourth in clutch points per game with 1.6 points per game, trailing only Lou Williams, Spencer Dinwiddie and Dwyane Wade.

At the very least, these somewhat basic numbers — and Sixth Man sometimes devolves into highest scoring player off the bench — Ross is in the neighborhood of the award. We will find out tonight just where Ross finished in the final voting when it is released. It is likely he finished fourth or fifth.

Emotionally, Ross certainly played a huge role for the team.

He was the spark off the bench that helped the team win several games just on his hot shooting alone. He hit big shots against the Philadelphia 76ers early on in the year that set the tone for the season. In two games against the Indiana Pacers, his fourth-quarter shooting helped lay the seeds for the team’s 22-9 finish to the year.

Even in the playoffs, it was Ross who went on a tear in Game 3 that made that game close and led to the Magic nearly stealing a second game from the Raptors.

Ross had that big of an impact for the Magic. He literally changed a few games. And with the way this season, that was the difference between making and missing the playoffs quite easily.

Why Ross did not finish among the top three at least in part has to do with the Magic’s relative anonymity in the league.

Orlando had only one national television appearance this season — the final game of the season. Ross did play well in that game, scoring 35 points in the win over the Charlotte Hornets.

But the voters simply did not see the Magic very often. It makes sense that a team like the LA Clippers — noted for their balance and heavy use of Harrell and Williams off the bench — got a lot of attention. They were no national TV a lot, even for the 8-seed in the Western Conference.

The Pacers too were on TV a lot and Domantas Sabonis had a solid season, especially stepping up after Victor Oladipo‘s injury. This is not to take away from what they accomplished this season.

But Ross was a true difference maker. Magic fans know this. Coaches in the Eastern Conference probably learned this more and more as the season went on.

He deserved a chance to get recognized for his career season. It is a disappointment Ross is not going to be there for this event.

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Ross was one of the best bench players in the year. He really was not a bench player for the Magic. And that is the value of a sixth man.