If you tuned in to the American team’s final pre-Olympic game against Spain on theScore Tuesday, you would have seen Jose Calderon running the Spanish attack.
Much like his team, Calderon got off to a solid start before the relentless pressure of the Americans eventually disrupted his flow.
In the first half though, Jose ran a nice two-man game with Serge Ibaka, controlled the pace of the game to Spain’s advantage and even dropped Deron Williams with a surprising crossover.
Okay, so everyone’s exaggerating the crossover, which was more Williams slipping and Calderon losing grasp of the ball for a moment, and once the Americans turned the pressure up a notch, Calderon and Spain got sloppy and faded. But if you did a quick twitter search for “Jose Calderon” during the first half of that game, you might have been convinced that the Raptors guard was the one man capable of stopping the U.S. juggernaut.
That’s obviously far, far from reality, but the point is that people’s minds can be greatly influenced by small sample sizes in professional sports, and at the end of the day, General Managers are human too, as evidenced by the countless examples of management tomfoolery in the NBA.
Spain received a very generous Group B placement for the Olympic tournament, which means that they’ll play Brazil, Russia, Great Britain, China and Australia. The Brazilians are legitimate medal contenders, the Russians will be a stiff test, the Brits will be playing in front of hometown crowds, and the Chinese and Aussies will be respectable. But make no mistake, Group B is much weaker than Group A, where the Americans will take on Argentina, France and Lithuania (as well as weaker sides Nigeria and Tunisia).
For the most part, Spain should be able to cruise through the group stage and threaten for another silver medal.
With a formidable collection of NBA talent at his disposal and the undisputed starting role locked up due to Ricky Rubio’s injury, Calderon has a chance to look good – very good – against some weaker competition.
If Jose can help Spain stroll through the group stage and win a medal, topped off by even an average performance against the U.S. in the final, his $10.5 million expiring contract should become even more appealing to potentially interested teams.
So whether you like Jose or not, if you’re a Raptors fan looking for maximum value, you might want to root for the Spaniard over the next couple of weeks.
Programming note: During the Olympic tournament, I’ll have daily recaps of Calderon’s performances, as well as Jonas Valanciunas and Linas Kleiza’s performances, so keep an eye out for those on basketball days in London.