Another real reason for optimism that is being overlooked, however, is the acquisition of Terrence Ross midway through the season. The Magic gave up Serge Ibaka just before the trade deadline to get him, and they also received a future first round pick in the deal.
It was one of former general manager Rob Hennigan’s final personnel moves, and so far, at least, it looks to have worked out quite well.
At 26 years old, Ross is only just entering his prime as a basketball player.
Apr 12, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA;Orlando Magic forward Terrence Ross (31) drives to the basket as Detroit Pistons guard Ish Smith (14) defends during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Magic have much to be thankful for that he will do so as a member of their franchise. No matter what moves the team makes this summer, the three-point shooting and floor spacing of Ross figures to be important.
Although he only played 24 games for the Magic when he came across from Toronto, he led the team in scoring on five of those occasions. He also started every game, and went from a reliable bench player for the Raptors (22 minutes per game) to established starter (31 minutes per game) with the Magic overnight.
His second game with the team, a win over the Atlanta Hawks, he led the team in scoring with 24 points. Obviously given the adjustment period and the fact he was being asked to do more, his numbers were going to drop.
This is true when you look at his field goal percentage, three-point percentage and points scored per game once he landed with the Magic.
That’s to be expected, but more puzzling is the Player Efficiency Rating of 11.1 (league average is 15.0) Ross put up when he suited up for his new team.
To watch him play for the Magic was to see a guy who understood his role right away, and who at least competed on the defensive end.
Numbers don’t lie however, and it’s clear Ross needs to be more efficient in how he scores his points.
That being said, it wasn’t like he had a lot of help most nights in trying to put points on the board. The team also became better in several areas, and it correlates with the period in which Ross joined the team.
For example, if we look at the Magic’s numbers on a monthly basis, April was the time when they averaged their highest three-point shooting (37.6 percent) and free throw (83.6 percent) percentages.
That three-point mark was also considerably higher than their next best month of shooting from deep in December, 35.8 percent.
On top of that, the Magic enjoyed their second (March, 105.1 points per game) and third (April, 104.7 points per game) highest scoring averages in the two full months after Ross had joined the team.
Is Ross alone the reason for the team’s improvements in these areas as the season went on? Not entirely, but it’s no secret his abilities to shoot the ball from deep were the reason the floor became more open for guys like Evan Fournier to have more space to work in.
In my opinion Terrence Ross, Ross is the most athletic shooting guard with an elbow jumper in a Magic jersey since Tracy McGrady. https://t.co/VqwCxNfm6I
Orlando finished the regular season shooting 32.8 percent from three-point range, the second worst mark in the league (behind only the Oklahoma City Thunder). Without the 34.1 percent he brought to the team, that percentage would have been even worse.
That number was the second highest average on the team (behind the 40.1 percent of the often injured Jodie Meeks). If that shooting can be extended over a longer period of time, it can only be beneficial to this team.
Perhaps most interestingly of all though, is just how important Ross can be for this team. Could it get to the point where he actually is seen as this team’s primary scorer, as opposed to Fournier?
Despite getting paid last summer and having a career year in scoring (17.2 points per game), assists (3.0 per game) and rebounds (3.1 per game), there are some who still remain unconvinced that Fournier can be the main man offensively.
Although it’s likely both Fournier and Ross will share the court as starters next season, it will be worth watching to see how both co-exist and who takes over in crunch time.
This is a good problem for the Orlando Magic to have, because having a player who can take over late in games is something that’s been missing for a while now.
If Terrence Ross can go from being a solid acquisition to one of the team’s better players in the space of 24 games, he’s doing something right.