While nothing can be made official until July 9th, Jose Calderon announced on his website his intention to re-sign with the Toronto Raptors. This should be reason for celebration across Raptors Nation, right? Not so quick Raptors fans.
Calderon became the crowd favourite at the Air Canada Centre last season during T.J. Ford’s absence and many fans were hoping this summer that the Spaniard would have the starting spot come next season. However, upon looking closer at his play last season there are a couple of red flags for any team that plans to start Calderon and give him extended minutes.
When looking at Calderon’s stats from last season you’ll see that after nearly two months of shouldering starters minutes, he began to slow down. Despite finishing the season averaging an impressive 11.2 points and 8.3 assists per game, during the last two months of the season there was a significant drop in Calderon’s shooting percentage due to his legs being tired and his jumper leaving him. During the season Calderon shot a sizzling 51.9% from the field (367-707) but during March he shot 48.8% (66-135) and in April his field goal percentage dipped even lower to 38.7% (19-49). Granted, this only represents two months of the season, but it’s a troubling stat because it shows what may happen again next season if Calderon is forced to log heavy minutes.
Throw in the fact that Calderon will be playing heavy minutes for Spain this summer in the Olympics and that’s just another reason for Raptors fans to be concerned.
Something else that can’t be underestimated is that teams will now be able to plan for one point guard logging significant minutes instead of Ford and Calderon splitting minutes. While NBA teams’ scouts have had the past few years to analyze and dissect Calderon’s game, now that he’s the starting point guard even more time and effort will be dedicated to slowing him down.
Even though many fans are writing off Ford due to concerns over his spine, I still hold to the claim that he was the better point guard of the two. Ford has experience playing big time minutes and the team won a franchise best 47 wins as well as their first Atlantic Division crown with him starting. Throw into the mix Ford has made the playoffs every season during his NBA career and it‘s clear he knows how to help a team win.
You can knock Ford all you want for being injury prone, but the fact of the matter is he’s a proven winner and as a point guard there’s not much else you can ask for. Calderon may turn into an all-star caliber point guard, but last season his play down the stretch raised some questions marks and now doubts linger over whether he can handle the starting spot for an entire season.
Only time will tell, but until Calderon proves he can play at a high level for 35-plus minutes over an 82 game schedule, I’ll be hesitant to say the Raptors dealt the right point guard this summer.
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