Training Camp is underway, and over the month of October, we’ll be breaking down the Raptors roster player-by-player in anticipation of the season, which tips off at the Air Canada Centre on Oct. 27 against the New York Knicks. Andrea Bargnani was featured last Friday, and today we’re back with a look at point guard Jose Calderon.
Where have you gone, Jose Calderon? In December 2007, T.J. Ford went down with another of his patented spine injuries, bumping Calderon into the starting lineup, where he responded with averages of 13.0 points and 9.1 assists in 56 starts and missed the Eastern Conference All-Star team by a hair. After the year, Ford was dumped for Jermaine O’Neal, and Calderon went on to set a league-record in free throw percentage in 2008-9, at .981 (151-of-154). And then there was last season. Jose, it’s like we don’t even know you anymore.
Calderon was a trainwreck in 2009-10, losing ball-handling opportunities early in the season to Hedo Turkoglu and having his poor defense further exposed with the lack of a shot-blocking big man up front. His starting spot was uprooted by Jarrett Jack in early-December, and even upon being re-inserted in March, Calderon never established anything close to a rhythm. In 68 games, he reached double-figures in assists six times, down from 29 in 68 games in 2008-09 and 32 in 82 games in 2007-08. His free throw percentage dropped to .798, and his field goal percentage dropped for the fourth straight season (.521, .519, .497 and .482). Calderon’s assist-to-turnover ratio, which was a league-high 5.4 two seasons prior, fell to 4.1.
On a positive note, Turkoglu is out of town, meaning Calderon will regain some of his lost ball-handling opportunities. On the other hand, he’s far from guaranteed a starting spot at this point, with Jack sure to state his case in the preseason. Regardless, he’s in no position to have the impact he had a few short seasons ago, especially with Chris Bosh no longer in the mix to feed off his passes.
One good thing for Calderon is that things can’t get worse in 2010-11. He’s always been a fiery leader and perhaps will be motivated by the team’s unsuccessful attempt to trade him to Charlotte over the summer. If he can channel that energy on the court, he could be a leader on a young Toronto team.
2009-10: 68 games (39 starts), 26.7 minutes per game, 48.2% from the field, 39.8% from three and 79.8% from the line, 10.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 0.7 steals per game.
What to expect: It all depends on the minutes, which he’ll have to earn. Sure, he’ll lose assists with Bosh no longer in the mix, but will gain some back if he’s able to run-and-gun with DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems and Amir Johnson.