2021 Orlando Magic Player Evaluations: Terrence Ross has uneven season with uneven team

Inconsistency has always marked Terrence Ross' career. The Orlando Magic's struggles highlighted them. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Inconsistency has always marked Terrence Ross' career. The Orlando Magic's struggles highlighted them. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports /

In his ninth season in the NBA, Terrence Ross has an established role as the Orlando Magic’s sixth man.

Ross has thrived in that role for the Magic in the past three years. He originally volunteered to come off the bench in 2017 to get going offensively after a slow start. Since then, the swingman has played his best basketball with scoring averages of 15 points per game.

But there is always that glimmer of hope Ross might become a 20-point-per-game scorer and reach an All-Star game or win Sixth Man of the Year.

That has always been the maddening part for Ross though. He always lacked consistency. And while the sixth man role suited him well, the Magic still often won or lost off Ross’ shooting. When he was hot, the team was hot. When he was cold the team went cold.

Terrence Ross has always had an inconsistent streak to his game. But the Orlando Magic’s struggles highlighted some of Ross’ worst attributes.

That only became greater with the injuries the team faced and the trades that ultimately reshaped the franchise, pushing Ross to carry more of a burden.

Ross improved in some areas, especially with his floater and his ability to shoot off the dribble. But all that inconsistency that hampered him in Toronto became magnified with the Magic.

It is hard to say exactly what the Magic wanted or needed from Ross at the end with such a young roster. But it probably was not his 2021 season.

Ross finished the year averaging 15.6 points per game, his high in a Magic uniform, but he shot only 33.7-percent from deep and 48.5-percent effective field goal percentage, his worst marks with the team since his first injury-filled season with them in 2018.

Ross too faced injuries, appearing in only 46 games for the Magic this season. It was an uneven and rough year for Ross.

The 2021 season started in typical “Human Torch” fashion.

Ross started the season hot with averages of 21 points per game, shooting 43 percent from three and 51 percent from the field in the month of December.  But he went on a cold streak and averaged 13.1 points per game in the month of January with shooting percentages of 31.7 percent from three and 39 percent from the field.

Overall, Ross had an uneven season.

He had 12 games in which he scored less than double digits and he only played in 46 of the possible 72 games.

Nevertheless, Ross provided the Magic a great boost off the bench when he did play. He still has great athleticism to electrify his team with high-flying dunks. Ross floated in the air and posterized Davis Bertans of the Wizards in early April.

Ross’ ability to take and make tough jumpers is still a skill that is unique to him on this team. But when Ross is struggling to get going or when defenses can key on him and lock him out of the offense, it can stagnate everything. Ross is in there to shoot and he will most definitely shoot.

Ross had a back injury toward the end of the season and the Magic held him out for the final games.

B-. . G/F. Orlando Magic. TERRENCE ROSS

In what became a lost season for Orlando with Markelle Fultz going down early and the revamp of the whole team at the trade deadline, Terrence Ross was a much-needed veteran presence. After the trade deadline, he tweeted out a perfect GIF about the state of the Magic roster.

Ross’ ability to keep things light is certainly one of his better qualities. And he will always endear himself now to Magic fans. But it certainly feels like Ross could be a player the team looks to move this offseason.

Ross is the last player on the roster Rob Hennigan acquired, and with the team turning a new page and starting over with a group of young players, the Magic probably need a refresh. Ross certainly may welcome a refresh and a chance to compete for the postseason with the Magic likely preparing for another rough 2022 season on the court.

His leadership is still important while he remains on the roster.

Ross is now the elder statesman on the Magic roster, and his role will be even more vital as a shooter and leader going forward. He probably will be tasked with a mentoring role if the Magic draft a wing in next month’s Draft.

As far as areas to improve, it would be nice to see Ross make a leap next year as a distributor and a more efficient scorer.

But, at the end of the day, Ross is a shooter. He is going to fly off screens and try to score. Orlando has always been willing to ride those waves with some players to give cushion when he struggles. Without that cushion, Ross’ inconsistency now stands out even further.

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And his 2021 season was a reminder of where Ross still tends to fall short.