Toronto Raptors Coach Dwane Casey Calls Terrence Ross Best Athlete in the NBA

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 21, 2013

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 16:  Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors jumps over a ball kid in his final dunk during the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest part of 2013 NBA All-Star Weekend at the Toyota Center on February 16, 2013 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Toronto Raptors swingman Terrence Ross may have only averaged 6.4 points per game last season, but he managed to stand out in head coach Dwane Casey's eyes, nonetheless.

According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, Casey said: "There is not a better athlete in the NBA than Terrence Ross."

Casey went on to list the vast number of areas in which Ross must improve to become a viable NBA player, but who cares about pick-and-roll decisions, shooting mechanics and consistent effort? Wouldn't it be more entertaining to figure out whether or not Casey is actually right about Ross' athleticism?

I mean, it's August. What else are we going to talk about?

As a starting point, we have to go back to the 2012 NBA Draft combine. The wide array of athletic tests rookies undergo there provide the raw statistics we'll need to perform our analysis.

Right from the jump (pun intended), it looks like Casey's statement is a bit hyperbolic. Ross' max vertical leap of 37.5 inches was bettered by 21 other combine attendees. Notable names that out-leaped Ross included Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard and Harrison Barnes—not to mention a dozen guys you've probably never heard of.

Ross' time in the agility test was a decidedly average 11.78 seconds. And his sprint score of 3.28 seconds was fast, but nowhere near the top 10.

From a purely statistical standpoint, Casey's claim sounds ridiculous. But there's a pretty convincing piece of videotape that weighs strongly in his favor.

Point taken, Mr. Casey. Point taken.

Maybe Ross was having a bad day at the combine. Or perhaps he was out of shape. Whatever the case, his victorious performance in the most recent dunk contest is good evidence that he's at least in the conversation about the league's best athletes.

Ross' hops are top notch, but as far as Casey is concerned, they won't count for much until the springy guard finds a way to make them more useful in actual games.