Terrence Ross has always known how to play basketball, and now it appears he’s learning how to think the game as well.

The enigmatic young Raptor, armed with abundant athletic talent, has shown this week he can keep his mind engaged on all the little things successful NBA players have to master.

As a result, it has given his coach far more faith and trust in him and reason to leave him on the court.
Small things like having good footwork on defence, keeping his mind from wandering when he’s not directly involved in a play, realizing that his physical gifts are not good enough for him to get by on alone, have seemingly finally hit home with the second-year guard.

“(It’s) knowing personnel, scouting, really just understanding how a team works and going out there and paying attention to it,” Ross said before the Raptors met the Chicago Bulls at the Air Canada Centre on Friday night.

“I think it’s just getting used to the NBA style . . . every team’s a little different, a lot different from college. I think I’m just getting used to seeing all the different sets.”

It’s not just seeing, though. It’s being in position to react the right way. To be ready, to be engaged and, to use the vernacular, pay attention to detail.

“His foot position on the ball has been good, that’s an attention to detail; when you’re on the weak side, go to the body first and then go through a screen, that’s an attention to detail,” said Raptors coach Dwane Casey. “Just those little things (but) mainly his foot position, and footwork defensively are the attention to detail (things), not opening up too much, just the little things. He’s athletic enough that he can make a mistake and catch up and make up for it but you don’t want to make a living on that.”

That has been one of Ross’s biggest problems in the year and a bit he has been in the NBA. He has never shown the ability to stay mentally focused long enough to be truly trusted with extended playing time.