As the NBA moved to a more spread style of play, the Orlando Magic zagged and chose to play with two traditional big men. While Serge Ibaka was able to space the floor —something he did very well to the tune of a nearly 39 percent accuracy from three — the decision still crippled the Magic.
Now, just over a week removed from trading Ibaka to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Terrence Ross and a 2017 First Round pick, the Magic will be able to move closer to that spread style offense the league is trending towards.
While Ross, 26, isn’t a star, he craved out a real niche over his four-and-a-half seasons with the Raptors. A near 38 percent three-point shooter for his career, the hyper athletic swing man can help the Magic space the floor, and bring more flow into their offense.
“It’s a good opportunity for me,” said Ross when asked if this was a chance for him to grow as a player. “It’s a new, fresh start for me and I’m looking forward to it. I’m going to embrace my role, whatever it is, and [I’m] just really excited to play.”
After starting 125 games over his first three seasons, Ross has only started in seven, predominately taking a reserve role to perennial All-Star DeMar DeRozan. The move to Orlando will see Ross slide back into a starting role, and potentially an uptick in production.
With Ross in the starting lineup, Aaron Gordon, who the team was experimenting with at small forward, will slide back to his natural power forward spot. The move will also shift Evan Fournier back up to the three, a position he played extensively, and thrived in, last season with Victor Oladipo playing the two.
The shift to playing smaller will likely benefit not only Gordon and Fournier, but Ross as well.
“Yeah, I definitely love shooting the three,” said Ross. “That’s something I can bring to the team and help with and hopefully causes different looks for everybody else.”
A former Slam Dunk contest champion, Ross also figures to be able to fit into what will likely be a faster paced Magic team in the second half. As of the All-Star break, the Magic sat 19th in the league in pace, averaging just over 98 possessions per game. With more speed and athleticism in the lineup, the Magic figure to be more dangerous on the break, both off of misses and turnovers, as well as made baskets.
Ross, who was mainly used as a spot up shooter with the Raptors — 34.8 percent of his possessions ended with him spotting up — will likely be tasked with handling the ball a little bit more. Taking on a bigger role as a playmaker is something Ross is looking to work on.
“Handle the ball a little more. Be more of a playmaker, look for teammates,” said Ross on the areas of his game he hopes to improve.
Having someone else on the floor, along with the likes of Elfrid Payton, D.J. Augustin and C.J. Watson, who can initiate the offense, could go a long way for a Magic offense that has struggled with stagnation throughout the season.
Taking on Ross was a move that was not only smart for the Magic, but one they needed to do. With Ibaka set to hit free agency, and it becoming increasingly more likely he would’ve left for nothing, getting someone who can contribute, and is locked up — Ross is in the first year of a three-year contract — was the way the Magic had to go.
It won’t come overnight, but the addition of Ross is a fresh start for not only him, but the Magic as well.