Terrence Ross has put in career-worst numbers in some categories. That is all a sign the Orlando Magic’s sixth man could return to his mean soon.
In an Instagram post, Terrence Ross admitted as much saying he played like three poop emojis “but got the win though.” The message was pretty clear about how Ross felt about his game. He at least had good humor about it.
How bad was Ross? He was 1 for 9 from 3-point land. He played 36 minutes and finished with five points. He may have been already thinking about time off with the All-Star break finally here.
Then again, Ross has had shooting struggles all year. Just as much as Ross can shoot the Magic into a game with his ability to hit from deep and with little space, he can shoot the team out of a game too. And there have been more of the latter than the former this season.
Ross is averaging 13.4 points per game, still the second-most he has averaged in his career. But he is shooting a 48.2-percent effective field goal percentage and a career-worst 32.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Ross is struggling mightily, and it is somewhat shocking to witness. This is the guy the Magic saw draining threes seemingly on a nightly basis during the 2019 run to the playoffs. Last year, he averaged a career-best 15.1 points per game and hit 38.3-percent of his 3-pointers. It was his ability to go on long scoring binges that helped turn the Magic into a potent offense.
Ross’ shooting last year changed several games and pushed the magic over the top on several occasions.
This year he is not hitting threes at nearly the same rate. He is not even making short jumpers.
At 28 years old, it is hard to conceive this man has broken down. It is more likely Ross has fallen back into the inconsistency that has characterized much of his career. In all likelihood, Ross will find his level again.
There are just too many indicators this season is an outlier for Ross.
Ross is shooting 35.6 percent on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers according to NBA.com’s player tracking stats. Last year, he was at 38.6 percent on such shots. That one little percentage (on one less attempt per game) can make a huge difference.
Last year, Ross made 42.4 percent of his 3-pointers where the closest defender was more than four feet away on 4.4 attempts per game. This year, Ross is hitting just 36.8 percent of his 3-pointers where the closest defender is more than four feet away on 2.9 attempts per game.
Ross is still shooting a ton of 3-pointers. His 3-point attempts per game is hovering around seven per game for a second straight year. But he is not shooting them efficiently or as efficiently as he did last year.
That has certainly sapped the Magic’s bench of some of its energy.
Coach Steve Clifford knows how vital Terrence Ross is to the team. Defenses are attacking him differently. They are looking to close down the space he has to shoot and blitzing screens to try to make it more difficult for Ross to rise and fire.
Repeatedly he has faced defense willing to shade him and fight over screens to crowd his shot. This has forced him to put the ball on the floor more and take pull-up jumpers. Teams are chasing him off the 3-point line.
It was notable in the Orlando Magic’s win over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday where Ross scored 21 points on 5-for-10 shooting from beyond the arc. The Hawks went well under screens giving Ross that dangerous room to shoot in rhythm.
Ross is one of the few players teams have to gameplan specifically for.
Clifford has said repeatedly for several months now he has to do a better job getting Ross open shots. It is clear how much the Magic need Ross.
The Human Torch has taken on a different meaning this year because the team has literally watched him flame out on several occasions.
All jokes aside, the fans love Ross and the numbers indicate Ross is due to bounce back. He could very well be rejuvenated Ross after the All-Star Break.
In Ross’ nine seasons, he has not shot worse than 40 percent from the field in any year. Right now, he sits at a confusing 38.7 percent. He has not shot worse than 33.0 percent from outside the arc either. This year he is shooting 32.2 percent from behind the 3-point line.
He is getting to the line more this year at 2.4 free throw attempts per game. That is a career-best by more than half a free throw attempt per game. Defenders have chased Ross off the 3-point line and he has done a good job getting to the line. Ross is also among the league leaders in getting fouled on 3-pointers.
Despite it all, Ross has gravity and defenses have to pay attention to him.
The stats show us the second half of the year is going to be Ross’ time if he can stay healthy. He is just the guy the Magic need to turn it around as they look to duplicate last season and put on 3-point spectacles all the way to the playoffs.