And so it begins. The Raptors may be in the early stages of another point guard controversy with news that Jose Calderon is expected back in the starting lineup when the Raptors take on the Knicks at MSG on Tuesday.

It wasn’t that long ago, just a few years really, since the last one.

T.J. Ford was the higher paid, quicker, penetrating point guard who could fill the basket. But he was unpredictable and injury-prone, while the much more efficient and “team-first” Calderon was seemingly dependable. More importantly, Calderon was set to become a free agent, and Bryan Colangelo had to make a decision. Jose was given a lucrative five-year contract, Ford was involved in a trade that brought Jermaine O’Neal to Toronto.

How quickly things change. Now it’s Calderon who is the higher paid starting point guard. Jose’s still a highly efficient, pass-first guard, but like T.J. (though obviously not as severely), Calderon is now the starter with injury problems. Ironically, Jerryd Bayless is now the young point guard the Raptors need to make a decision on, as the lone year remaining on his contract is a $4.1 million qualifying offer.

In the five games since Calderon rolled his ankle in Detroit, Bayless has navigated the Raptors through a 2-3 stretch while playing some of the best ball of his NBA career. In the five contests, all starts for Bayless, he’s averaged 21.8 points on 54 per cent shooting (57 per cent from deep) to go along with 7.6 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals.

In addition, for a point guard who’s known as a careless turnover machine, Bayless is averaging nearly three assists for every turnover during this recent stretch. It’s nowhere near Calderon’s league leading clip of 4.46, but when a point guard’s giving you a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio while scoring 20-plus points on 50 per cent shooting, there’s really not much about his play to complain about.

This isn’t the first time Bayless has made the most of an opportunity to start, as he finished last season averaging 22.5 points on over 48 per cent shooting through the season’s final eight games. Quite simply, it seems that for now, Bayless performs best in Toronto as a starter.

Calderon is the better pure point guard, but Bayless is looking more and more like the better game changer with each passing contest. I’ve really liked Jose’s play this season, and I was one of the fans who thought he shouldn’t be traded unless the Raptors could get a first round pick or intriguing young asset back in return. But as we’re all painfully aware, this season is about development and seeing what we have in our younger players.

If you ask me, I’d like to see what Jerryd Bayless can do as a starter this week against Jeremy Lin and Derrick Rose. That’s not a knock on Jose, but rather a sign of his movement over the last four years from the loveable underdog in a point guard battle to the steady old guard.

Comments (37)

  1. Instead of watching Bayless when he has the ball dribbling up the court and “initiating” the offence, try watching the other 4 Raptors. Do this for a number of consecutive possessions and you will begin to intensely dislike him, I imagine.

    • This season, the Raptors have averaged 105.6 points per 100 possessions when Bayless is on the floor, in comparison to 97.9 points per 100 possessions when he’s off the floor. Clearly, he’s helping rather than hurting team offense:

    • Keep in mind the raptors are terrible right now. I imagine you want a team to be constructed that can actually win something eventually, and Bayless is a tremendously flawed player. He plays like an Iverson (or better recent example, barbosa) without nearly the skill of an Iverson – demanding the ball and shots at the expense of teammates to be effective. Are you suggesting the Raps rebuild should be centred around ill-advised Bayless flails at the rim trying to get to the line and every other piece should accommodate him? If Bayless is going to make it in this league (on a winning team, mind you), it’s not as a starting PG because he’s only been successful when it’s been all about him and he just doesn’t have the talent to do it all himself on a team that expects to win more than 30 games. I’m all for giving him all of Barbosa’s minutes/role and seeing if someone else can man back-up PG duties, but let’s be realistic with our player projections if you ever want to see the raps as more than a lottery team. This has nothing to do with Bargnani, but rather the whole team you want built next year, 2 years, etc. Right now JBay is a poor man’s Monta Ellis, and I, personally, am no fan of Monta’s (haven’t watched him in his new digs yet, admittedly). Some people LOVE Monta, I suppose, but I think the GS record over the last while speaks kind of loudly.

      More to the point, since having him start doesn’t at all reflect the reality of how the Raps would hope to use him in the not-too-distant future, why get “fool’s gold” results by having him start and dominating the ball the remainder of the season?

      • If Bayless continues to shoot at 54% from the field, and 57% from 3PT (last 5 games), I’d tell him to keep shooting the ball. Wouldn’t you?

      • You bring up GS’s record over the last few years with Monta, and you seem to think Jose is so much better than Bayless. What about Toronto’s record over the many years Calderon has been here? (in an easier division and conference). We’ve won 4 total playoff games with Jose as our starter, and had 1 season with a winning record.

        I really think it’s time to move Calderon to the bench permanently. Give someone else a chance to be our starting PG for f*ck sake.

        • Jose is a better distributor. There were rumours of teams like the Lakers wanting him for very good reasons. I don’t think he’s a spectacular player by himself but he is one of the better players in the league at running an offence and getting teammates involved. Monta is a player that some people think should be an all-star and has been the star of his team. While Jose’s pay may not currently reflect it (and yes, his salary will come off the books or be decreased before it matters at all to the raptor’s build), Jose is a just a solid role player whose role right now is to allow us to properly evaluate 4 other players at a time and to help adapt a team to a proper offence. Monta’s role was more like CB4′s, to be the best on his team and lead them to success. Neither had sustained success in this role.

    • Sorry to continue ranting, but I also believe Calderon can be a very essential part of a team that will likely be built on a distribution of shots between Valanciunas (hopefully), next year’s draft choice (depending on a lot between now and June, next season, etc), and Bargnani or whoever else might be a core part of this team’s offence next year, two year’s from now, etc. Why piss off an asset who’s done nothing but good for this franchise (yelling blog commenters notwithstanding) when he’s more likely to be an important piece and is also a far better choice in terms of sharing the ball with other assets that need to be evaluated? I’m more curious about what JJ, Derozan, Eddie D can do with a proper point guard giving them the ball than how well they fend for themselves (I already know they’re not particularly well off creating for themselves).

  2. Does anyone notice that Andrea’s numbers are slowly inching back to his career norms? Man, did he get hurt at the right time or what?

    • Yeah, funny how Zach Randolph is able to immediately return to form after a 3-month layoff, but we’re supposed to be “patient” with Bargnani again.

      • I’m confused Scott. Who says we’re suppose to be “patient” with Bargnani again?

      • Also, it’s terribly ironic that you bring up Bargnani in the same discussion as if his strong performance in the beginning of the season isn’t reason enough to credit him while Bayless’ performance is.

        Keep in mind, I’m NOT defending Bargs here. I haven’t heard a single person give Bargs benefit of the doubt. Every time I’ve heard talk of him, it’s tempered optimism, HOPING he continues to play well, but really afraid that his early season was just a blip. No one (excluding Raptor’s broadcast staff) has given him a pass as far as I’m aware.

        • Those situations aren’t really comparable as this is Bayless’ first real opportunity to play extended/starter’s minutes in his career.

          Now, if he falls flat on his face, so be it, that’s what you expect from a 23-year old trying to learn how to run a team on the go but until he got a shot, it’s tough know what we have on our hands with him as he heads into restricted free agency and the team has to make a decision on his future this summer. I’m not as worried as Scott and Joseph are but it still is a bummer that the kind of player this team should be pushing this season is going to be benched so a 30-year old with no future with this organization can continue to log 30 minutes a night.

          Bargnani on the other hand has 279 starts, we know what we have with him, it’s just a matter of when the GM and some members of the fan base will accept reality. We’re not there with Bayless yet because we have no freaking idea what we have in him.

          • I understand that your argument is basically about why two small samples are interpreted so differently but we’ve been on the Bargnani ride for almost 6 years and have a pretty accurate representation of the player he is so it’s tough to give him the benefit of the doubt when he has a stretch that really stands out from his career norm because we know it’s only a matter of time he will regress to the mean.

            Bayless hasn’t even had a chance to fail yet and even though he won’t get the repeated chances that Bargnani will get, I think he deserves at least one chance just to see if he’s worth keeping.

  3. RK50: The 7.6 assists per game Bayless has averaged over the past 5 games isn’t enough for you? And what about the fact that Bayless is superior to Calderon defensively? That doesn’t matter?

    I’m fine with keeping Calderon around for next season in the final year of his contract. But the Raptors aren’t getting a better PG either through the draft or free agency this off-season (unless they sign Nash) so Bayless should be given the playing time he’s earned.

    • 3.9 APG with 1.8 TO in 2011-2012. Period.

      On his career he’s got 2.8 APG with 1.4 TO. 5 contests for a cellar-dweller is hardly worth jumping out of your pants for. Gerald Green should go All-NBA, I guess. In terms of what he’s “earned”, that’s it.

      I’m fine with him running the show when Calderon is out. I don’t, however, think it’s doing this team any good (nor him, mind you)having him excel in a role that won’t exist for him in the near future. He’s not going to be the #1 option on any team winning more than 35% of their games (over the course of more than an embarrassingly tiny sample to quote as evidence), but that’s how he’s gotten those numbers.

      But to the actual point of starting, The real question is what do you hope to learn by having Bayless start? The caveat being, what questions do you think might be answered if Calderon starts (or won’t be answered if Calderon starts). I want to know how well Jerryd can come off a bench and rack up points when someone else can pass him the ball (a Barbosa role with better defense) or how well he can facilitate an offence (almost all evidence points to somewhere between badly and really badly). I want to know how well Ed Davis can pick and pop and hit short jumpers from the elbow before having to decide between he and Amir in next year’s rotation. I want to know how other young members of the team can fit into an actually functional offence, and I don’t think I can learn that with JBay dominating the ball. I personally think those questions are answered far more thoroughly with Calderon starting and Bayless coming in as a 6th man with, perhaps, Forbes playing minutes handling the ball a bit (a stretch I’m sure, but we are hoping for a tank job after all). It’s not about success, it’s about answering questions and Bayless really hasn’t answered those questions with the ample opportunity he’s been given in 24 MPG this season (and last) so I don’t see his short stints of relative success as meriting more minutes. I realize your response to that is asking what can he give us with 35+ MPG, but again, I have to mention that the role he’s playing as the starting PG isn’t realistic for a team that hopes to have any kind of sustainable success.

      I won’t yell or scream if they choose to start him the rest of the season (though I most definitely disagree with it), and I can understand your logic in wanting to try it, but I really can’t figure out why you think it’s absolutely necessary and obvious rather than just an idea one might try. Seriously, dude; it’s Jerryd Bayless.

      • RK, it’s unfair to look at his 2011-2012 and career stats and judge him simply based on those numbers, because he’s been a career backup PG, and a career 18.4 MPG.

      • First reply ever to a blog on thescore…and it’s all because of how stupid RK50 sounds. You sir sound more and more ridiculous through each of your repies.

        “3.9 APG with 1.8 TO in 2011-2012. Period.
        On his career he’s got 2.8 APG with 1.4 TO. 5 contests for a cellar-dweller is hardly worth jumping out of your pants for.”

        Do you even watch Raptor games or what?? Any true fan would know Bayless barely played until he came to Toronto, and has for the most part played off the bench during his time here. Coming off the bench, he wants to be a spark plug for the team, and while he may jack up shots at least he’s being efficient while doing so unlike players you bring up such as Monta Ellis. If you want to bring up his stats from the 2011-12 season, go look at how many games where hes played less than 20min off the bench and scored more points than minutes. Important to note, this is while hes coming off the bench.

        The last 5 games where he has started, even though that is a small sample size…he has accepted his role as a PG and filled in nicely dishing out his assists to get the team involved.

        What alot of people fail to mention though, is Jerryd Bayless brings something for the Raptors that none of the others really do….a clutch 4th quarter player. He’s a fierce competitor, isn’t scared to give up the body and goes into the dirty areas.

        How many times has Calderon’s defence allowed for the opposition to create an easy basket? Bayless has exceptional defence, and he would be a huge upgrade on defence for us at the PG.

        Bottom line RK, you’re an idiot and I can’t wait to see what you have to say after Bayless gets more starting minutes in.

        • I will definitely admit that “You sir sound more and more ridiculous through each of your repies.” is the line of the night.

    • Also, we haven’t once mentioned the phrase “contract year”…

  4. I don’t think there should be any rush for the Raptors to bring Jose back from injury.

    I would actually like to see what Bayless can do against the better teams. He has played great, but lets not forget Memphis has been the only playoff calibre team he’s played against as a starter as of late.

    I would really like to see him take on NY and Chicago as the starter for the next 4 games, and see what he can do against a better defense, and better overall teams.

  5. If Jose is healthy, he starts. Don’t care about stats per 100 possessions. Watch the game.
    The first comment from RK50 sums it up. Watch the other players.

    I have not ruled out Bayless turning into a good PG, but right now he ain’t.

    • You don’t have to “care” about that statistic. But saying “watch the game” is an inadequate rebuttal. The fact is that by the most trusted measure of offensive efficiency, the Raptors’ offence is more efficient when Bayless is on the floor versus when he is not. How will watching the game change that fact?
      The problem is that too many people buy into an idea or a theory (ie-Bayless at the point is bad for the Raptors’ offence), and end up believing in said theory despite the fact that the numbers suggest otherwise.

  6. Yikes, RK50 really dislikes Bayless. Calderon isn’t the future at PG. Is Bayless? Probably not, but I agree that his recent play warrants rewarding him with a lot more playing time. I think that’s most of what “pro-Bayless” people on here are arguing in favor of.

    You shouldn’t say things like “3.9 APT with 1.8 TO in 2011-12. Period.” It makes it sound as though season stats are the only barometer by which you judge a player. Again, the Raptors have averaged 105.6 points per 100 possessions when Bayless is on the floor, in comparison to 97.9 points per 100 possessions when he’s off the floor. I don’t think that you should bring in subjective judgments like “why piss off an asset” by keeping Bayless on the floor when in all probability Andrea, Derozan, etc. probably appreciate the offense generated when Bayless is playing with them.

  7. hands down we should resign nash in the off season

  8. Just throwing in my 2 cents, but basically they amount to I 100% agree with what RK is saying. Bayless doesn’t run an offense, he dominates the ball for large portions of the shot clock. His numbers over 5 games look good because his jumper has been on, but I’ve watched enough of his game over the past 2 seasons to know that is in no way a sustainable thing. His shooting percentage on the year is 42%, the year before that it was 42, the year before that it was 41. That’s what he is.

    The fact that the Raptors appear to have a better offense with him on the court has much more to do with the fact he has played the 2nd string minutes with the Raptors more offensive minded group (Barbosa, Kleiza, and not Gray/Magloire) than his play. I will agree he is a good defender, but if you look at those same efficiency numbers you’ll see the Raptors defense is actually better with him on the bench.

    Last point, and I don’t want this to sound condescending but it might. Anyone who has ever played a decent level of basketball has played with a guy like Bayless and knows just how awful it is. Watching him take every shot on a 2 on 1 or 3 on 2 … sucks. Hearing him call for the ball when he’s not open … sucks. Standing there doing nothing while he dribbles for 10 seconds … sucks.

    • Oops didn’t read this comment until after posting my one below. I apologize for basically repeating some stuff you said.

  9. I’m sorry, was I just simultaneously told that his 28 games this season was an insufficient sample size while being told that the 5 most recent games was? Yikes, people.

    I would argue that the statistics that you’re relying on are really skewed because one data set is mostly vs. starters and one is vs. 2nd lines (unless Bayless gets hot, in which case he gets to bring his vs.-starters-stats up). This team isn’t particularly good top to bottom, in case you haven’t noticed, but their depth of talent isn’t in question, it’s the top end talent. The 2nd line (of which Bayless and up until now, Barbosa, have both been big parts of) is at a far lesser talent discrepancy from the opponents they play. Also, keep in mind that Bayless largely played with a relatively set rotation (including Barbosa), while Calderon had his #1 option out with injury and his #2 play like dog shit for most of this (apparently insufficient?) sample. If you’re going to rely so heavily on the stats, make sure it’s a set of numbers that include context. I’d like to see more of Bayless in a role that is realistic. He could be a good 6th man on a good team (maybe) or a failure of a back-up PG on a shit team (currently the case), and that’s worth figuring out.
    Watching the games lets you see how players actually play, despite all these factors. I might recommend baseball if you don’t feel like watching games, but just like browsing numbers. The problem is that too many people read stats and have no concept of context or what statistics over a sample mean, and end up believing in said numbers despite most logic suggesting otherwise.

    I agree Jerryd should be evaluated, but I guess I have a different idea of what evaluated means and, more importantly, what we’re hoping to evaluate. I think the idea of him as a starter on a good team is ridiculous (and yeah, I would hope we could eventually have a good team), but the idea of him as the 6th man is reasonable and starting him won’t show us that. Leandro Barbosa is a good mould for Jerryd’s skill set. While JB may emulate Derrick Rose, he doesn’t have nearly the talent to hope that’s what he’ll be. That still means giving him minutes (bigger minutes, different roles, whatever – losing Barbosa is important here, since we haven’t seen J without L much), but there’s more to be gained by watching Demar receive an in-rhythm pass from Jose than by watching Demar’s body language slump as JB dribbles out the shot clock so he’s the one who has to shoot (a nifty trick that the notorious Rasual Butler is also quite fond of). (Side note: I wish the NBA could have a stat on when a play is run vs. when it’s broken. Impossible to put in numbers (other than for the coaches), but anecdotally somewhat easy to see. This is likely why he’s not starting. I mean I know I have absolutely no proof for that, but watch the tape and think about it.) I still want to see more of JB, but show me that success in a situation where it’s not just him dominating the ball in a scenario that won’t be replicated for him on any kind of successful team.

    Lastly, nobody’s talked about this at length, but: Contract Year (+ Shitty Team) = bad contracts. Most blog commenters don’t trust BC, so is that really a risk you want to take? (I’m only kind of joking here.)

  10. I think starting Calderon serves no purpose this next 20 games. We know what Calderon can do, and he is already signed here for another year. I say sit him until the end of the season and see what value he has on the market.

    Far more important is Bayless. He opened eyes last year as a starter, and he is doing is again this year. We need to evaluate him over the course 20 games to understand whether he is worth investing in long-term. I’d hate to lose the guy and he blows up on another team.

    If he is not the right fit for Raps, then why not use the next 20 meaningless games to prove that he is a bad fit. We can at least move on from the guy. Over 20 games he should regress to poor shooting and his bad turnovers. To me, as a starter he is stubbornly successful, and as a bench player he has no rhythm. Let’s see what we have.

    • Good points. No one’s proclaiming Bayless is the answer long term, but as you stated, we know what Calderon is and isn’t, while we’ve never gotten the chance to see what J-Bay can do in an extended stretch as a starter.
      RK, if you’re going to bring up the small sample size in terms of Bayless’ starts, then that alone should be reason to give him more starts. He’s had two chances to start in Toronto, an eight-game stretch last season and a five-game stretch this season, and he’s looked exceptional in both. We know what he is as a bench player. Let’s see what he can do in a 26-game starting stretch so that we won’t have to claim his success as a starter is due to small samples. We’ll know whether he’s ready or not after 26 games instead of debating whether he’s ready or not after five games.

      • This nonsense about how good he is while starting vs. coming off the bench is a red herring. Do you think Derrick Rose’s game would suffer if he had to come off the bench? Deron Williams? Steve Nash?

        I don’t know what the impetus is to “see more” of a guy who’s already been in the league 4 years on 3 different teams and has never before broken through. In Portland, he was brought in to be the starter, and couldn’t beat out Steve Blake for the backup spot. In New Orleans, he was brought in specifically to back up Chris Paul, and couldn’t even manage to do that well. Most management and scouting types around the league have given up even considering him as a PG by this point. The quotes are there for you if you’re interested in looking for them.

        Smart basketbally people seem to think they know what Bayless is by this point: a decent combo guard who can score in bunches when he’s on and play decent defense on opposing 1s. That seems to include BC and the Raptors. Which I find somewhat comforting, since it means they will be looking for a replacement PG in FA or the draft, and if Bayless is in TO next year, it will likely be as a backup 2. I just hope they don’t overpay.

    • .
      Calderon over Bayless – and no useful purpose for the next 20 games.

      I strongly disagree. Jose may not be our PG of the future, but his value goes to what he brings – in development – to the younger players. Bayless is a ball hog, and his role is best suited to a SG position. One with ball handling skills … a commodity lacking on this team. As a SG he’s effective. As a PG, he’s an effective SG.

  11. In 36 career starts, Bayless is averaging 16.2 ppg and 5.2 apg in 31 minutes of playing time. Those kind of numbers mean he deserves an opportunity to start, especially when the incumbent is defensively inept and very limited on offense.

    This is a rebuilding franchise and Jerryd Bayless is still an unknown quantity. He is young enough to change his game and become more of a pass-first PG

  12. Didn’t this happen last year, too? When Bayless was made the starter, his numbers soared. For some reason, he really languishes as a backup. Here are his numbers as a starter from last year (© Blake Kennedy):

    Points Produced / Game: 19.3
    Points Produced / Pace adjusted 36 MP: 19.8
    Poss%: .247
    ORat: 116.1
    eFG%: .514
    TS%: .578
    AST%: .309
    TRB%: .061
    FTA / FGA: .348 (!)
    Stop%: .514 (he defends better as a starter than a reserve, too)
    DPs%: .172
    DRat: 114.0
    Net Points / Pace Adjusted 36 MP: +3.4

  13. Scott has the most persuasive argument for starting Bayless the rest of the season – unless the Raps sign Nash in the offseason, who else is coming? I don’t think the brass is looking at Jose as the long-term starter.

    I’m personally not a fan of Bayless as a PG, but it is interesting that he’s only a year older than DeMar and has never been given near the opportunity that DeMar has been given (basically guaranteed starter no matter what). His numbers as a starter make it more difficult to dismiss him as a potential starting PG for this team going forward, but I’m not sure what it says about him that he can’t play nearly that well coming off the bench.

    Bayless has shown that he can be an above average defender at the point. He’s not consistent yet, but he takes charges and his lateral quicks are miles ahead of Jose. You can’t dismiss that just because Jose runs the offence better. There’s a tradeoff there also, because even though Jose runs the team better it’s nice to have a guy on the floor who can get his own shot.

    At the end of the day, if the brass isn’t looking at Jose as the long-term answer, and if Bayless has put up very good stats as a starter both last season and this season, and given that he’s only 23 and there isn’t a good chance a PG stud is coming next season, starting him seems like a no-brainer. It may make it a bit harder to evaluate the other guys if they’re not as involved in the offence, but I don’t think the difference there is substantial enough to counter the arguments for starting him. If he falls flat on his face, so be it, but let’s increase the sample size.

  14. Neither Bayless nor Calderon is the “long term answer” at PG in Toronto. Not if you want to eventually win a championship here. Calderon could be a very useful backup in ~3 years when this team should be contending/in the playoffs. Bayless could be a very useful backup 2 in the same timeframe. Neither should be expected to be playing 35+ minutes at the 1 on a winning team.

    The question then becomes, for Bayless, how much are you willing to pay for a backup 2, and are you willing to sign him for that much this summer? Leandro Barbosa made 7M to play a similar role, but I don’t see Bayless commanding (or worth) that much, based on his history in the league.

    If you can get him to return for less than $5M, and if that doesn’t hamstring other potential moves this summer, and if he continues his high level of scoring when he goes back to the bench, then it’s not a bad deal.

    If he asks for more than that, or if some other team is willing to pay more, or if paying him would mean not being able to go after bigger fish, or if he goes back to sucking when he’s backing up Jose, then you let him walk and try to get his FOURTH team in 5 years to give him a shot at starting PG.

    It’s really not a difficult a question. He’s not so valuable, even at the elevated level he’s been playing for the past 5 games, that he deserves to be the root of any starter controversy.

  15. One of the things I like about Bayless is that he does not care if he starts or not. And he hates the point guard ‘debate’ that the media is always trying to stir up.

    Jerryd Bayless: “I hope Jose starts”. “Jose is the starter”.

    Now if only columnists would stop beating a horse that died in 2010 and move on to something more interesting.

  16. I’m with RK on this one.

    In other news, the raging “Jose vs. Bayless” debate just goes to show how shitty this team is at the moment.

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