Terrence Ross will be in the Slam Dunk contest. He won’t be in the Rookie/Sophomore game and neither will Jonas Valanciunas. While everyone is all excited over Ross being part of All-Star Saturday night I honestly could careless. Former Raptor Matt Bonner will also be in the three point shootout while we're on the subject of All-Star Saturday Night.
The bigger issue to me is the lack of development in terms of playing time we are seeing for both Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas. I think it is fairly clear the Raptors are not heading to the post-season. Even for the most optimistic, the loss to Boston has to pretty much put an end to logical debate on if they can make it.
In my view, the playoffs are and were a pipe dream for this team after their disastrous start to the season. Obviously, the East being what it is there have been moments where the Raptors have been let back into the race to some degree but realistically they have always been on the outside looking in.
So the focus should be the future and that includes both Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas. It likely doesn’t include guys like Aaron Gray and Alan Anderson at the end of the day. When this team builds to the position of being a legitimate playoff team and hopefully eventually a contender, it is safe to say no one sees them as part of the rotation.
So the minutes they play going forward are lost minutes in the development of both of the Raptors' rookies. They both need that time as well. Jonas has been a bit of a disappointment at the end of the day. He came in with all the hype and all the expectations and really has not lived up to it as of yet. Missing around a month of time in the season due to injury was not part of his development plan. It likely shouldn’t have been starting at center to begin with either.
Still now with nothing to really lose it does make sense to let him play more be it starting or coming off the bench. It also makes sense to do what you can to trade Andrea Bragnani. He is just not going to work going forward. The simple fact is he will continue to be a dividing force with the fan base and you really can’t afford to play him on the floor with Jonas.
It is Bargnani’s seventh year and the time was up long before now on giving up on him and moving forward. Even being booed by a rough estimated 50% of the ACC had little to no response from him. I would be much happier if he was at least pissed off. Any kind of emotion would be nice. That just isn’t him at the end of the day. He isn’t a fit for this athletic group the Raptors are starting to build either. Rudy Gay is now the centrepiece of this squad.
The arguments about creating space on the floor have just become weak. Sure that might be true, but a couple things are also true. Rudy Gay is capable of creating space as well, by attracting double teams and making things easier for his team. In addition the Raptors record with Bargnani in the line-up as opposed to out of the line-up is too significant to ignore. Regardless of how he performs it ultimately does not contribute to wins enough.
The Raptors need to cut bait and move on once and for all. If they fail to move him by the deadline it will be a failure and it will be a strong indication that interest around the league is not as high as Bryan Colangelo would like us to believe. His publicly declaring him available might be a sign as well.
Trading DeMar DeRozan to go with Terrence Ross would be a major blunder however. Ross is simply not ready to be a starter in this league. On some nights can he play like a starter? Yes he can, but on other nights he looks totally lost and a mess. Inconsistent is what he is when you cut away all the highlight dunks and flash about his game.
DeRozan and Ross can co-exist long term and they actually fill each others gaps nicely. The Raptors by extending DeRozan have likely made him someone that would be a challenge to move anyway. Not to mention that the Raptors have shown a willing nature to play small ball, this makes it far easier to find both minutes.
That process should be starting now and figuring these things out. Can the Raptors be effective with Ross, DeRozan and Rudy Gay all on the floor at once? It sure seems like a very exciting trio to have on the floor given the skill set of all three.
These types of things are what this season needs to be about. The Raptors need to continue to build towards the future and be far less concerned with the present. Colangelo promised more moves and hopefully we get to see some especially in terms of Bargnani so we can officially turn the page on an era that has produced little.
As for Ross in the dunk contest we have seen this movie before. The NBA Dunk Contest is more side show than substance. DeMar DeRozan knows that all to well. Ross is rather soft spoken and lacks the swagger with his words and does it more with his actual ability. The dunk contest no longer rewards the actual dunks as much as it rewards the whole show around the dunks.
I would like to say Ross stands a chance of winning because he has the skill to dunk the basketball. I watched DeMar DeRozan get screwed twice which has taught me to know better.
At the end of the day….Let Ross Play means more than letting him perform dunks at All-Star Weekend. It will be a good experience in terms of getting a chance to be around some of the NBA’s elite but ultimately what he needs is the experience to make his overall game better.
That doesn’t happen at All-Star Weekend….It happens in games like Friday vs. the Pacers and all the rest going forward.