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Old 03-07-2011, 12:45 AM   #1 (permalink)
HugoBoss
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Default Chisholm: Welcome back Jose Calderon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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While Calderon will never be an elite defender, he's shown an increasing willingness to fight harder through screens of late, a better ability to read his matchup and play his distance and angles accordingly and he's able to provide an extra second of resistance on drives to give his teammates time to react and get into position to stop penetration. It's worth noting that the Raptors have been consistently outpacing their opponents in points in the paint lately, which shows not only a dedication on the team's part to attack rather than settle, but also a greater ability to prevent teams from penetrating at will and abusing the Raptors at the basket. Calderon's improved perimeter defence has been a great aid to that cause.

Of course, just about everything Calderon has done since being elevated into the starting lineup this season has been an improvement for him. Since being promoted after Jarrett Jack was traded to New Orleans, Calderon has averaged 10.6 ppg and 10.4 apg, with those assist numbers reaching as high as 11.4 apg in the month of February. The stability he has brought to the point guard position on a tremendously young team has been invaluable. He's leading the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.16-to-1), he's getting a group of teammates that can't create their own shots or open looks, and he has helped his team get to the top of the NBA in fastbreak points per game (19.2). His willingness to advance the ball with a pass instead of a dribble has been a substantial area of growth for Calderon, as has his willingness to let other people bring the ball up the court when appropriate, since both were huge areas of weakness for Calderon when Jay Triano took over the team more than two years ago. It can be said that Calderon is probably playing his most well-rounded basketball right now at the age of 29.

This is particularly important because as of today it looks like the Raptors are going to need him to man the point guard spot beyond just this season.

Jerryd Bayless, the backup guard brought in when Jack was sent out, has struggled mightily as a traditional point guard and looks much better suited to playing a Leandro Barbosa-type of scoring guard role off of the bench. Bayless simply doesn't have a knack for controlling the game like Calderon, especially in terms of balancing his offence with his passing. He's extremely turnover-prone (he leads the team in turnovers per 36 minutes), he holds the ball for too long and he generally looks uncomfortable as the quarterback for the team's offence. The Raptors should be working to groom him as a Barbosa-Terry-Crawford-type of sixth-man as opposed to wedging him into a playmaker's mold

There is also very little chance the Raptors find their solution in the draft. Duke's Kyrie Irving represents the lone transformative point guard prospect in this year's draft crop. Unless the Raptors can get lucky in the lottery and snatch a top-two seed, and they'd have to leapfrog Cleveland and Sacramento in the process because both of those teams will target Irving as well, then it's far more likely that the Raptors end up with a forward on draft night, not their future point guard.

While the team would surely like to get younger and more athletic at the position at some point, the fact that Calderon has been more than holding his own of late alleviates the need to upgrade the position right away. With size, post defence, perimeter defence, three-point shooting and depth and leadership all major areas of want for the club, being able to address those areas without also having to hit a home run by acquiring a new point guard could really help Colangelo prioritize in the summer shopping season.
Chisholm: Calderon coming off best game in years
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