In a slightly surprising (yet not shocking) move, the Toronto Raptors used the 8th pick to select Washington’s Terrence Ross. Ross had held firm as a solid, mid-first round selection since he announced his intention to go pro back in May. In the final couple of weeks leading up to the draft, his name started to get mentioned as one that some teams might be looking at taking even earlier than that. It all culminated with Ross not only landing in the lottery, but cracking the top ten, as well.
As a shooter who can get his own shot, an athletic wing with good size, and a solid defender, the high selection of Ross makes sense. It also goes to show that skills, not hype, are what ultimately matter.
When Ross declared his intent to play ball for the Huskies two years ago, he was part of the “Oregon Terrence Package.” Terrence Jones was the other half, and he was unquestionably the more glamorous of the two. Ross was generally regarded as really good, but Jones was the main prize. With that in mind, UW fans went nuts when John Calipari and Kentucky shadily swooped in and managed to convince Jones to change his commitment. Jones was the big-time, man-child that could take a good basketball program and make it a legit contender, and he bolted to go be a part of the machine. Ross remained, and people were happy about that. However, there was unquestionably a sense of disappointment.
Well, as good as Jones could be, he was hampered by attitude issues and inconsistent play, particularly in his sophomore year. The talent is still there, but he dropped to #19 overall. Additionally, he went to Houston, where he has to play for Kevin McHale. Good luck with that – hope he’s traded. The less-publicized Ross kept his cool, worked on his craft, and ended up going a full 11 picks earlier to a team that clearly values him.
In another example of hype versus substance, last-year, Ross played second-fiddle to heralded freshman point guard, Tony Wroten Jr. Unquestionably, anyone who knew the team knew that they could only go as far as Ross could take them, but Wroten was the media-magnet who was the subject of “one-and-done” debates all year long. To be fair, both were good candidates to leave after the 2011-2012 season closed out, but Wroten got the talk.
Wroten is as physically-gifted as anyone. He is the product of university/pro-level bloodlines, and that is readily-apparent from the moment anyone first lays eyes on him. He’s a huge, broad-shoulder point guard that can take physical contact with ease. He can run, jump, and dazzle with the best of them. He makes highlight-reel passes and has great ability as an active, driving guard who can get to the rim (his second-jump ability is elite and allowed him to get his own misses at will). The upside is huge…
… but the downside is alarming. As of right now, he cannot shoot. At all. He’s left-handed and that is the only hand he can use. Despite showing a lot of fire as a competitor, he equaled that with moments of disinterest and/or complete mental collapse. I always thought that the scouting report on handing Wroten would be so easy to put together: play way off him and make him shoot or, if you’re willing to let him try and penetrate, just force him right. He could get away with his weaknesses at the college level, but they are major issues in the NBA.
And that’s where, once again, Ross shined brighter. Less holes and question marks, and a more complete game. He’s not without fault, by any means. His ball-handling can be suspect, and he has a personality that is very much laid-back (on the surface, at least). He could also stand to add a little bulk.
With all these guys, it’s obviously impossible to predict what will actually happen and how will actually develop. But, Ross isn’t getting a lot of talk compared to his peers in this draft. If the past is any indication, that’s no problem.
– Wes Lilliman