Orlando Magic Guard Terrence Ross Shows Why He Should be a Top Target at the NBA Trade Deadline

Understandably lost in the hype of Jaylen Brown’s historic 50-point, 11-rebound night in the Boston Celtics’ come-from-behind, overtime win on Sunday was a white-hot shooting performance put forth by Orlando Magic guard Terrence Ross.

Rest assured, several teams in the NBA in need of scoring punch off the bench or seeking a late-game closer with ice water in his veins certainly didn’t overlook what Ross did on Sunday at TD Garden.

A loyal soldier for years in Orlando who helped the perpetually rebuilding Magic reach the playoffs twice, Ross could very well become a difference-maker for a contender before the NBA’s trade deadline hits on Feb. 10.

Regardless of the numbers, Magic guard Terrence Ross can still score points in bunches

This has hardly been Ross’ best year with him having endured a COVID-19 bout and shooting just 40.6% from the floor and only 30.2% from 3-point range. But stats have never had any effect whatsoever on Ross, one of those shooters who has always had irrational confidence of sorts no matter whether he had made his last 12 shots or missed 12 straight.

Ross proved that again on Sunday in Boston when he carved up the Celtics for 11-of-19 shooting with four 3-pointers and seven free throws. His play helped the Magic romp to a 35-20 edge in the third quarter and build a lead as large as 14 points in the fourth quarter.

If you haven’t noticed, Ross — nicknamed “The Human Torch” because of his love of Marvel characters and his ability to get hot in a hurry — has been doing this for years in Orlando. In the 2018-19 season, he became the first player in NBA history to make at least 200 3-pointers (217) while not starting a game. That season, not only did he shoot 38.3% from beyond the arc, but he also played a key role in helping the Magic break a seven-year playoff drought with some of the most lethal fourth-quarter play of his career.

He put up 14.7 points per game in 2019-20 and 15.6 points per game in 2020-21 as the Magic transitioned from being a team fighting for a playoff berth to one building for the future.

Lakers, Clippers and Celtics, among others, could be in the trade market for a 3-point shooter like Terrence Ross

If the Orlando Magic decide to deal Ross before the Feb. 10 trade deadline — and they should do just that to aid their rebuilding efforts — there should be plenty of suitors. After all, Ross is the kind of player who has been dynamic enough throughout his career to score 51 points in a game and also win a dunk contest at the NBA All-Star Game.

Playoff contenders such as the New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Wizards, and Denver Nuggets are in the lower half of the league in scoring.

The Minnesota Timberwolves (27th in the league), Knicks (26th), Toronto Raptors (24th), Boston Celtics (23rd), Mavericks (21st), and Clippers (20th) could use another shooter to help improve their woeful shooting ranks. Others, such as the Los Angeles Lakers (16th in the league), Nuggets (19th), Raptors (21st), Minnesota Timberwolves (23rd), Celtics (24th), Mavericks (25th), and Washington Wizards (27th) clearly all need to improve their 3-point shooting to be taken seriously come playoff time.

Could the last veteran in Orlando turn out the lights when he is traded?

The Orlando Magic had a solid veteran core in place during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, but those teams lasted just five games in the playoffs before being beaten by the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks.

Injuries to Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz led management to start a massive rebuild last spring, and veterans Nikola Vucevic (to Chicago), Evan Fournier (to Boston), and Aaron Gordon (to Denver) got traded elsewhere. Veteran coach Steve Clifford, who finally made the Magic relevant again, was let go following the 2020-21 season when his timetable didn’t match up with the Magic’s desire to rebuild.

Ross is the last remaining member of a veteran core that brought enthusiasm back to Orlando. In recent years, he has talked openly about growing up and maturing, getting married and becoming a father, and settling down. In Orlando, Ross planted some much-needed roots and found a home.

Assuredly, Ross — a Los Angeles native who also spent time in Portland while growing up — would like to play for a winner again before his career ends. In the summer of 2019, he had plenty of suitors looking to sign him as a free agent, but he chose to stick with the Magic.

Ross’s mindset is likely different now after going through a couple of years of endless losing. There should be no shortage of suitors if the Magic make him available before the deadline.

The Lakers, Clippers, 76ers, Mavericks, and even Ross’ first NBA team, the Raptors, should be in the market for a marksman still capable of putting up big nights as he did in Boston on Sunday. Shooting, namely 3-point shooting, has never been more at a premium in league history.

Add a perimeter threat like Ross, and that’s one fewer defender who can help on LeBron James, Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid, or Paul George come playoff time. And as far as Ross is concerned, he could potentially go from rebuilding mode to championship contention in the time it takes for the paperwork to be signed and the physicals to be completed.

Contenders would be wise to check on Ross’s availability and do what it takes to land him so he can have big nights like the one he posted on Sunday in meaningful games again.

Statistics courtesy of ESPN.com

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