Jose CalderonWith five days to go until the start of the Toronto Raptors 2010-11 season, I’m profiling each of the guys I expect to make up the Raptors’ primary 10-man rotation on opening night. Today, we look at Jose Calderon.

Jose Calderon, PG, 6’3″, 210 lbs.
2009-10 stats: 68 games, 26.7 MPG, 10.3 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.4 BPG, 0.1 SPG, .482 FG%, .398 3P%, .798 FT%, 16.5 PER

Remember when some of us thought that Jose Calderon had the potential be “Steve Nash Lite”? Ahhh, those were heady days, weren’t they? After a 2007-08 season where Calderon played his way into the argument for being ranked as a top-10 point guard in the NBA, he signed a five-year, $45 million contract with the Raptors that seemed like it could be a bargain when he inevitably played in multiple All-Star Games.

Unfortunately, a combination of injuries and an inability to maintain the absurd shooting accuracy of his breakout season (.519 FG% and .429 3P% in 2007-08) have turned his contract into an albatross and now it seems doubtful he can cut it as a starting point guard in this league. How did things go so wrong?

It’s hard to say how much of his deterioration on both ends of the floor is a result of various hamstring and ankle injuries he’s incurred over the past two seasons, but you’d have to think they’ve played a role in his declining mobility whether or not he’s willing to admit it. His lateral movement has deteriorated to the point that he’s a significant liability on defence (particularly on pick-and-rolls) and his falling shooting percentages show that he’s unable to create shots for himself with the same effectiveness as before.

While it’s likely impossible to prove, there is also a theory that Jose Calderon’s confidence was shaken when he temporarily lost his starting job to Jarrett Jack last December. That might help explain why his free throw shooting declined from a surreal 98.1 percent success rate in 2008-09 to a merely above-average 79.8 percent rate last season. Free throw shooting is about two things — mechanics and confidence — and it’s not hard to see how his confidence could have been rattled after being usurped by the free agent newcomer, Jack. It was “The Calderford Controversy” all over again.

This preseason, Calderon has been nothing short of awful. He can’t hit his shots, he’s not driving into the lane with any confidence, and his defense is as putrid as ever. On his personal blog, Jose wrote that he was “concerned about the allocation of roles; thus far the preseason hasn’t left a clear idea how those roles are going to be shared. We are all playing pretty much the same number of minutes and with equal responsibilities on offense. It is early, there remains another ten days until our first game, but we have unknowns that need to be defined.”

Jose may have forced Jay Triano’s hand in defining his role after he went 0-for-6 in 25 minutes against the Bulls on Wednesday. In 359 career regular season games, Jose has never gone 0-for-6 or worse. It’s only preseason, but his .289 FG% and .091 3P% do not bode well for him to reverse his decline of the past two seasons. Sadly, where we once hoped for “Steve Nash Lite”, now we’ll likely have to settle for being happy with “Luke Ridnour Lite”, at best.

Comments (7)

  1. Perhaps it’s because of how things have gone so bad, so fast in terms of Calderon’s status as a starting point guard in the NBA, but I can’t help but very badly want to see Jose succeed. I know he’s a terrible defender. I see everyone always ragging on the guy. Frankly, it sucks. Calderon’s breakout year was something else. And he always seemed like a guy who played his ass off for not only himself, but the organization, and the fans. His actions when T.J. Ford sulked about being a backup, leading to Jose making himself the backup, will never be forgotten. Ultimate team guy. And he was the dude who put a towel over Garbajosa’s mangled ankle as his friend lay on the floor screaming. Unfortunately, I won’t forget that, either.

    Bottom line: for all his faults, he seems like a likable cat. Someone who puts team first. And I really want him to do well.

  2. @Navin: I think most Raptors fans want him to succeed, but it seems as though his confidence it really shaken right now. I think he needs to get comfortable with being a really good backup because Jarrett Jack has been outplaying him for most of the time he’s been a Raptor.

  3. I hate all this revisionist history – TJ sulked about being a back-up? What, you mean, fought to get back the starting job back that he lost due to injury, before being thrown under the bus by MLSE who loved the “Jose as modest, team-first hero” storyline and played up his “sacrifice” when he volunteered to return to the bench?

    Jose seems like a good guy. And a good team guy – no question. But he was over-rated by Toronto fans and media in the first Calderford year, and has been unable to live up to the ridiculous expectations that were put on him (remember when they talked about him as a potential all-star?) in the years that followed. He’s never been as good as folks suggested in the early days when he played well as a starter in TJ’s absence, and now the same folks that loved him are acting like jilted lovers, blaming him for not being something he never was.

    Of course we want him to do well – if he doesn’t improve, he’s untradable, and a liability on the floor. He should take some responsibility for his actions: if he plays like a starter, he’ll start. If he is outplayed by Jack, he should be a back-up. That’s life in professional sports, and would be the case anywhere in the NBA.

  4. I think his trade value could actually increase playing off the bench against 2nd stringers, if he accepts and flourishes in this role as he’s done many times before. He’s shown a good two man game with Amir Johnson, and he’ll look like less of a liability on defense. Starting him only serves to expose his many flaws.

  5. Scoot

    i hate to say this but you are doing a nice job and the last 2 lines PAM! horrible comment.

    Sadly, where we once hoped for “Steve Nash Lite”, now we’ll likely have to settle for being happy with “Luke Ridnour Lite”, at best.

  6. Preseason 2010 Raptors

    Raptors offense 108.6 ppg for 8 games with 6 players scoring in double figures

    Jack 186 minutes 39 assists 20 turnovers in 8 games

    Jose 168 minutes 42 assists 11 turnovers in 8 games

    Banks 41 minutes 2 assists 2 turnovers in 4 games

    And you consider Jack is outplaying Calderon by a large margin ???
    The results do not support that conclusion in any way.

  7. john

    Since calderón got injured last december Scott and many canadianfans didn’t stop saying that, but the truth is that, in the last season, calderon averaged the same stats as Jack but even with this they say Jack is outplaying him big…..

    just to say that calderon last year had a bad season with injuries, but jack???

    Stop dreaming!

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