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Cloud of Doubt Hangs Over Calderon Signing

Jose Calderon
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.

Photo Credit: Icon Sports Media

Ryan McNeill
Ryan McNeill has appeared on ESPN Radio, MTV Canada, SiriusXM, The Fan 590 and other radio programs and TV shows. He has covered the NBA with media credentials since the 2007-08 season.
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  • tytyone

    Are you talking seriously? Just replace Calderon by Ford in your last sentence. Here you’ll find the answer about right deal. It will be incredible to retain both of them but it’s impossible.

  • Tunez

    How quickly people are forgetting that TJ wasn’t willing to participate in the shared point guard program anymore. The extent of his malice was obviously exaggerated by memners of the media… we all know who… but regardless the kid was not happy with the way things had gone. I agree that the 2 headed monster that is Forderon was crucial to the Raps success, especially for matchup problems, but TJ was still looking for his own shot way too often at the beginning of games, leaving other players out of rythm. Neither is a great defender, TJ is the better of the 2, but I believe the addition of O’Neal (IF HEALTHY!!) will help with that.

  • george

    Jose’s shooting numbers dropped after TJ returned and his minutes dropped — he played better when he was getting 40 minutes a game, so I don’t but the “wearing out” argument. I think Mitchell messed with his confidence the way he kept switching starters towards the end of the season. And even though he shot poorly, let’s not forget that Jose still posted a superhuman assist/turnover ratio in April.

  • Brendan de Haan

    T.J Ford is not a PG that the raps need. Taking game winning shots with 2 defenders on him or turning the ball over in clutch time. He thinks hes Kobe and im glad we got rid of him. We Got O’neal for T.J. Who would not take that deal ?

  • smokadeth

    true, who wouldn’t take that deal? injuries and a couple of rough seasons aside, o’neal is still o’neal, age 29, and poised for a return to all-star form.

  • Chris S.

    Calderon was so tired near the end of last season because when TJ was out he was playing pretty much the whole game because they did not have a suitable backup. That would wear down any player.

  • rashad

    I think Jermaine O’Neal’s arrival takes all the pressure off of Calderon, and he’ll be fine

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  • Ryan McNeill

    Tunez – I don’t think that it’s Ford was unwilling, just that he had a tough time adjusting. I had the chance to talk with Ford in the locker room during this time and his struggle wasn’t in Calderon having success, it was in trying to adjust to coming off the bench for the first time in his career.

    George – Granted, his assist/to ratio was amazing this season. I don’t think it was a case of Sam Mitchell getting into his head, I think it was Calderon’s body not being able to hold up under the rigors of extended minutes. Hopefully Calderon proves me wrong next season and excels in the starters role.

    Brendan – I have no complaints over a player hitting game winning shots…

    Smokadeth – I hope so, because if JO returns to All-Star form than this deal was a great one for the Raptors.

    Chris S – Who’s backing up Calderon this season? Roko Ukic? Personally, what scares me the most is that BC didn’t invest in an experience PG to play spot minutes behind Calderon. Someone like an Earl Boykins would have provided a great change of pace and would have come cheaper than Ukic.

  • Brendan de Haan

    Ryan – When the situation arises or a player to hit a game winning shot, you must look at the situation at hand. T.J just wanted the glory rather then the win. I recall a game where he had to fake about 3 times then go up for the shot and pass it off 3 more times and on his 4th attempt miss terribly. When i see things like this it makes me wonder if he just wants to hit the shot for himself and not the team. If that was calderon, there would of been a set play for someone else to have a good look. T.J wants to be the P.G and S.G at the same time. It doesnt work.

    O neal comes in and the raps have 1 of the best front courts in the NBA. A healthy O Neal can equal to 16 and 9 every night and this is something that the raps desperatly need as other then Bosh, our secondary rebounder doesnt bring much to the O side of the game. Just look at the projected starting 5

    Kapono / Moon (no bargiani as he is terrible)
    O Neal

    now thats a nice 5.

    and just on a side note Duhon 6 mil a year ? Isiah must of had some imput there.