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Terrence Ross will play a key role for the Magic this season

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The Magic missed Terrence Ross last season, and will welcome him back with open arms this year.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a season where he appeared in only 24 games due to injury, Terrence Ross figures to be a key player for the Orlando Magic.

Going into last season as a starter, Ross saw his role change early on, largely due to his streaky shooting. In the first 20 games of the year, all games in which Ross started, he scored in double figures nine times, including a season-high 22. However, his good nights were marred by equally bad nights, with the rangy swingman notching six points or fewer in eight games.

Then a knee injury brought his season to an abrupt halt.

“I’ve never been out of basketball that long, ever,” said Ross, who missed the teams next 58 games before returning for two of the final three contests. “It kind of humbled me, and kind of helped put everything in perspective. It kind of gave me the opportunity to get back into the gym and work. I want to feel healthy, and I think the last few games of last year gave me confidence in how healthy I could play. I felt good, and I think it was just maximizing that in the summertime.”

Ross’ absence was felt almost immediately, with more pressure falling on the shoulders of Jonathon Simmons, and Evan Fournier to carry a bigger load. Simmons took the role and ran, putting together one of his best seasons offensively, but regressed on the defensive side. Fournier, when healthy, was one of the more consistent offensive pieces for the team, but dealt with injuries of his own that cut his season short.

Despite both Simmons, and Fournier’s best efforts, Ross was still clearly missed.

Even with him struggling with his shot early in the season, Ross’ ability to get hot from beyond the arc would open things up for the team offensively, forcing the opposition to stay at home on him. Defensively, his ability to guard multiple spots was also equally missed, with the team struggling to get consistent defensive play on the perimeter.

After getting a fully healthy summer under his belt, Ross expects to be a key part of the Magic’s wing rotation.

“I would come in in the morning and get up some shots, and then come back and do a different workout at night,” said Ross of his summer regimen. Whether that was working on ball handling, working on finishing at the rim, a couple extra dribble moves, touch stuff, I was just here all the time.”

On top of putting in a lot of work in the gym, Ross had talks with coach Steve Clifford about the type of role he could be expected to take this season.

“He wants me to do what I’m good at, which is shoot the ball and play defense. When I talked to him in the summertime, we kind of got to sit down and talk a little about plays I used to run in Toronto. He’s asked me about where I’m comfortable on the court.”

Ross is the kind of guy that can play off the ball, and have plays run for him, or, in certain instances, initiate the offense. He’s strongest moving without the ball, and coming off of screens, looking for open shots.

That will undoubtedly be a spot that Ross finds himself in a lot on the offensive end this season, with his shooting desperately needed on a roster still devoid of much consistent shooting.

While he might not put up the biggest numbers on a night-to-night basis, Ross is going to figure in to the Magic’s plans on both end of the court this season.