Last night, Julian Wright was the débutante at a coming-out party at Quicken Loans Arena. When he entered the game with 1:29 left in the first quarter, the Raptors were trailing 32-19. He remained on the court right through to the end of the half, when the Raptors led 66-63. In those 13 minutes of playing time, Wright had 11 points, four rebounds and four assists — he was the main reason the Raptors got back in the game.
The Raptors still led by three points when Wright re-entered the game at the 5:46 mark of the third quarter. He played the remainder of the game and helped lead the Raptors to a 15-point win. He finished the night with season-highs in minutes (31), points (15), rebounds (9), a career-high in assists (5) and an amazing plus-32 rating for the game.
What impressed me most about Wright last night was his court vision. I was reminded of the fact that he played point guard in high school by the seeing-eye assists he dished out. His ability to run the floor, score in transition and be a disruptor on defence were well established. His playmaking ability was a revelation to me.
With all of this gushing, it shouldn’t surprise you that our first video is a compilation of Julian Wright highlights. I think you’ll agree with me that his assists were the most impressive part of his night.
If you’ve read me for awhile, you know I try to think unconventionally about this team sometimes. Am I crazy to think that Wright might be able to play some minutes at point guard? Sure, the fact that he can’t shoot beyond 10 feet is problematic, but think of what he might be able to do defensively against some of the deadlier scoring point guards in the league. And based on what I saw last night, he might be a better passer than Jerryd Bayless.
Unless he gets traded in the next month or so, Jose Calderon remains the best passer on the team and he reminded us of that fact with a season-high 17 assists to go with his 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting, including 3-for-3 from deep. This wasn’t just his best game of the season, it was probably his best game since he dropped 22 and 19 on the Bulls in March 2009. Like Maestro Fresh-Wes back in the day, he was conductin’ thangs.
While he’s not getting as much playing time as he has in previous seasons, Calderon’s per-36-minute averages of 13.1 points and 10.1 assists show that he’s playing as well as he ever has this season. He’s also shooting a career-high 44.8 percent from three-point range, which ranks him sixth in the league behind Chris Paul. In spite of this, the Raptors are dead last in the NBA in shooting percentage from that range. I’m no mathematician, but it seems to me that Jay Triano needs to encourage Jose to shoot more treys.
Two of Calderon’s treys were in that previous video, but I wanted to show you his third make in a separate video because it features some of the best ball movement I’ve seen from this team in a while. I guess it takes playing a craptacular team like the Cavs to get the Raptors playing fast and loose on offence.