Several players for the Orlando Magic had career years last year. To repeat that performance they worked on ways to make their teammates better.
Terrence Ross spent the summer of 2018 in the gym.
He skipped any vacation or trips, often bringing his son to the Amway Center to work out. Terrence Ross had missed all but 24 games in the 2018 season after suffering a fracture in his tibial plateau. It was a disappointing season for him, one that he was not going to have again.
So he put all that work in to prove he was healthy.
He ended up having a career season in 2019, averaging a career-best 15.1 points per game. He shot a 53.4 percent effective field goal percentage. Ross became a dynamo off the bench, changing the game with his gravity. He turned the momentum of several games, quickly becoming a fan favorite.
The Orlando Magic have so rarely had a player who could ignite a team like that and score points so quickly, it was refreshing and different. And vital to the Magic’s playoff run.
The question facing Ross after re-signing with the team is how can he do it again. The question facing everyone is how can they do it again? And how can the Magic do it again with defenses now aware of what weapons they have?
Defenses are sure to focus more on Ross this year, bumping him off screens, sending him different looks and defenses and making him put the ball on the floor more. The league is privy to what he can do and how important he is to the team now.
Improving and getting ready for this season was about understanding how to make himself better within the team context. Because that is the only way he can get better.
“I kept the same formula, just collabed with the coaches more on what to do,” Ross said Thursday. “I know last season, people weren’t expecting me to play the way I did. Starting this year, they are probably going to make some adjustments. Coaches are telling me how I can find my shot or get more people involved or what I can do to manipulate the offense and defense.
“It was a more mental summer for me. Watching a little more film and understand what is going to happen when I get out there.”
Ross was not as public with his workouts as he was when he made his comeback last summer. The urgency to return after nearly a full season off was perhaps not as great.
But there is still a lot Ross can do. A lot Ross must do.