Terrence Ross has chased consistency throughout his entire career. In a sixth man role for the Orlando Magic, he has finally found it.
Terrence Ross is like a dice game. You never know how the dice are going to roll on a given night. But the chance to win is great and when he rolls the right number, he can change games.
The Orlando Magic saw this first hand during the 2019 season when his ability to catch fire earned him the nickname “The Human Torch” and changed the fate of many games. The Magic had the most wins after trailing entering the fourth quarter in that 2019 run.
Terrence Ross is essential to what the team does. According to coach Steve Clifford, Terrence Ross is often the second guy on the scouting report when teams prepare for the Magic. He has to be with how quickly he heats up.
There are also one or two games every year where Ross shoots his team out of games. Orlando is willing to take that to give Ross the green light.
The Magic saw what could happen if he turns up craps.
The story on Ross before he arrived in Orlando was his inconsistency. He truly was a roll of the dice. But that has changed with the Magic. And after two straight years as one of the best sixth men in the league, the story for Ross in 2021 is that he might have actually found consistency at last.
Ross famously scored 51 points and then followed it up with 10 points the next night. Ross could not nail down a starting spot with the Raptors.
Filling in as the sixth man has helped Ross find his spot in the NBA.
Overall, Ross last season averaged overall respectable numbers as a 6th man last season with 14.7 points per game. He posted a shooting line of 40.7-percent from the field, 35.7-percent from behind the arc and exactly 84.5-percent from the charity stripe.
It is conspicuous that it is not as impressive as his zenith last season, but he still lived up to his contract in year one of his new deal. Ross was still so key to the Magic’s success and he turned in a good season.
But finding consistency in the 2020 season was not easy. Ross got off to a slow start last season before the pandemic suspended play. From the start of the season until Jan. 1, Ross averaged only 12.7 points per game and shot 33.0-percent from beyond the arc.
The Magic offense sputtered as the dice came up poorly with Ross.
But he was able to bounce back and regain his form from the 2019 season during February and March, averaging 18.5 points per game and making 42.6-percent of his 3-pointers in that time.
Besides the immense disparities manifesting themselves in the months of February and March versus the rest of the year, something else is worth noting.
His numbers in wins versus in losses were noticeable. It encapsulates why he is a focal point of the offense. Looking at those splits, you see an inherent difference.
In wins last year, Ross averaged 16.3 points per game and shot 40.7-percent from beyond the arc. His true shooting percentage was 60.9-percent.
In losses, he averaged 13.5 points per game with a 30.4-percent 3-point field goal percentage. His true shooting percentage dropped to 49.9-percent.
Simply, in wins, Ross’ efficiency and sooting were significantly better. In such a way that it has a real impact on the game and the result.
His scoring per game is up by 3 points per game. His rebounds and steals are higher. His defensive and offensive ratings are both significantly better with him on the floor, which is a harbinger for a very encouraging plus-minus of +13.2.
Finally, his shooting percentages are clearly better across the board. It all makes sense that when he does well, the offense as a whole does better and the team’s record reflects that. Plus, if he’s shooting well, his aplomb grows and it imbues into the rest of his game, including his defense.
The other thing that helps with Ross is even though he likely will never be an all-star, he is capable of being one of the best sixth men in the game when he is in a rhythm.
Think of a taller version of Lou Williams for the LA Clippers. Some games where the Human Torch was lit up shows how high his ceiling can be.
For example, he had unequivocally his best all-around game on Feb. 28 when the Orlando Magic hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves. While a lot of the attention went to Aaron Gordon’s first career triple-double, Terrence Ross dropped 33 points with five rebounds, three assists and a couple of steals. All while shooting 52-percent from the field and making almost half of his 3-point attempts.
It is not an overstatement to declare that he is one of the catalysts of this squad and has been since the day that he arrived.
Considering the fact he is still Orlando’s best shooter and even one of, if not their second-best scorers, the Magic’s success is contingent upon him playing well.
While he will still reign as the sixth man, as opposed to starting, the offensive onus will fall more on him. He will once again be the team’s closer with James Ennis filling in the starting lineup for the injured Jonathan Isaac.
The Magic need way more help on the offensive than the defensive end going forward. And that is why Ross remains so vital to the team. And he has become someone they can count on every game.
Or most games.
Thankfully, they are in luck with the help the Magic got Ross in those bench lineups with some of the young players joining him.
Cole Anthony and Chuma Okeke are both at full strength and have looked impressive in their first preseason run. This will hopefully free things up for Ross in the second unit so he does not command as much attention on defense.
As a result, it is expected he will be able to get more open shots off and get the ball more in space. This will help him to see his shooting numbers return to his career year levels. Besides that, regression back to the norm in a positive sense is definitely realistic to yearn for fans of the team that wears pinstripes.
It should help the Magic count on Ross more regularly.