There is no question that the talent available - if both players are operating at a high level, is a huge advantage for the Raptors. Jose and TJ offer opponents a distinctly different look, one with his quickness and explosives, the other with his speed and efficiency. Both can score, distribute, and also defend to their individual strengths. So it is critical that they find a way to co-exist if Toronto is to have any success in the post season.
The problem right now is that Ford is simply trying to do too much. It is feast or famine when he is on the floor. TJ will either try to create for others with his quickness, or more often than not, attempt to score from every angle. It will be one, or the other. And when his game is off, he doesn’t slow down and let the game breathe, he continues to push - regardless of time or score, good or bad, hot or not. Sam Mitchell has said on many occasions, that TJ has to get his game legs back before he can truly be himself on the floor. It is critical now that Ford himself realizes that.
While all this is happening, Calderon
is also suffering. His minutes have become choppy. Jose even seems to be pressing now, trying to force his game somewhat, to stay on the floor. Despite being an outstanding shooter, Jose passes up shots to make sure his teammates are happy – and to this observer, in an attempt to balance out Ford’s ‘shot happy’ play, that often leaves his teammates standing and watching in dismay. Sam Mitchell needs Jose to play to his potential, not worry about his role, minutes, or creating a balance for TJ.
Body language is also a very important element to any point guards play and impact on his team. Jose is constantly talking to and pushing his teammates – even with TJ, encouraging him thru his struggles. Ford on the other hand, carries himself in a different manner, often sulking and looking mad or upset. It is difficult to distinguish if he is irritated at himself, his teammates, the coach, the refs, or who knows what? Ford needs to realize his teammates feed off his leadership and energy, and if it is negative, then that is what they will run with.
The fine line of when to shoot, or when to pass, has to be distinguished by every player on the floor – especially the point guard. It is with an extreme sense of urgency, that TJ Ford has to find where that line gets drawn. It is just as important, if not more, to sit down and watch game tape to see those definitions, as it is to run and shoot jumpers in practice. The Raptors
need Jose and TJ to function as one, to play to their strengths, and to bring out the best each player on the floor. And that is ultimately what it is all about – the team. Remember…a successful team beats with one heart! If that is the focus, then all should work itself out. If not, it will be a long summer of Bryan Colangelo, because decisions will have to be made.