Toronto’s starting swingman has been a no-show during the first three games of the postseason, averaging just 3.3 points in 21 minutes per game.
Ross has also let his offensive struggles distract him on the defensive end, as he’s often been a step behind his opponents while also repeatedly blowing his defensive assignments.
This was the case during Game 3, when his Nets counterpart, Joe Johnson, scored 29 points while Ross was invisible for most of the night.
Following the trade of Rudy Gay last December, the 23-year-old Ross really emerged as a key contributor for the Raptors during the regular season after he was moved into the starting lineup and finally given some meaningful minutes.
The sophomore averaged 12.2 points in 29 minutes per game following the trade. He was also one of the team’s best defenders on the perimeter.
Despite all his athleticism, Ross’ biggest strength offensively was his ability to catch and shoot three-pointers. He averaged 40.2 percent from beyond the arc after moving into the starting lineup.
The ability has disappeared in the playoffs, where Ross has shot a dismal 18.2 percent from the three-point line.
It might be unfair to single out Ross for his struggles, because he’s expected to go through some growing pains. After all, this is just his second year in the NBA and his first time playing in the postseason. For comparison’s sake, Johnson is a 13-year NBA veteran and a seven-time All-Star.
There have also been calls for Toronto head coach Dwane Casey to replace Ross in the starting lineup with a veteran such as John Salmons or Landry Fields.
But while both those players have their own strengths and weaknesses, is it really beneficial from a long-term perspective for the Raptors to send their young player to the bench?
While doing well in this series should be important, the team’s biggest priority right now should be to give its young core—one that certainly includes Ross—a chance to soak up some valuable playoff experience and grow from its mistakes.
Not to mention that Ross has played a huge role during the regular season in getting the Raptors to where they are now. It simply doesn't send a good message to bench him now, and the move would be a huge blow to his confidence.
So while Toronto desperately needs more production from its swingman spot in order to have a chance of getting past the first round of the playoffs, Ross should be given the opportunity to work through his struggles.
All stats are from basketball-reference.com.