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Terrence Ross had a much-improved sophomore campaign.
The 23-year-old averaged 10.9 points and shot just a hair under 40 percent from beyond the arc. He even dropped 51 points in a game back in January. It wasn't quite a breakout season, but it was a very solid one, the next step in the development of what could be a key piece to the Raptors' future.
But Ross virtually disappeared in the postseason, reminding us that he still has a ways to go.
In seven games against the Brooklyn Nets, the shooting guard averaged just five points in 22.6 minutes per contest. He didn't post double digits until Game 7 and shot 29.8 percent for the series. That's not going to cut it if Ross is to become this team's consistent third or fourth option alongside DeRozan, Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas.
Raptors Republic's William Lou had particularly harsh words for Ross' performance through six games of the first round:
What’s worse for Ross, is that his problems are not merely skin-deep. This isn’t a case of shots not falling, or better offense overwhelming his abhorrent defense. If anything, the numbers portray Ross in a fairer light than his performance merits – Ross has been terrible on both ends of the floor. He’s not finding ways to get himself open for threes, he’s not leaking in transition, and his defensive positioning is random, at best. The most obvious sign? His smooth butterfly shooting stroke, the one that launched his career in pro basketball, looks warped and altered, as if it were designed to thread a basketball through the eye of a needle. His shot looks as ugly as that last analogy.
The downturn wasn't terribly surprising. This was Ross' first time in the playoffs, and he seemed appropriately rattled by the increased intensity.
Give him some time, and all that should change.
Those impatient with the Raptors' postseason performance will look to upgrade the team's wing rotation, but they should be careful. After all, this team was worse when Gay was here. Adding another piece could mess with chemistry.
More importantly, Ross will get better. He's young and still learning the finer points of the game, including decision-making and diversifying his offensive skill set. He has all the makings of a well-rounded scorer, and it would be unwise to give up on him so fast.
And to be fair, Ross did have his moments in the postseason, including some timely shots in Game 5, per the National Post's Noah Love:
While Wednesday night’s game was far from Ross’s best, it was a definite improvement over the four games that preceded it. He finished with eight points — including two huge three-pointers — and chipped in some excellent defence on Nets point guard Deron Williams. 'Felt good,' Ross said. 'Just trying to get a little bit of rhythm back. Every little bit helps.'
And come the 2015 postseason, Ross should be a much bigger help, too. He just needs another chance.