With Kyle Lowry resting a strained adductor muscle, Jose Calderon and John Lucas III have been sharing the minutes at point guard for the Raptors through three pre-season games. Calderon has shot the ball slightly better than Lucas has and has committed two less turnovers in about 10 less minutes of action (Jose only played 14 minutes on Friday night because of hamstring tightness), but for the most part, Lucas has either matched or one-upped Calderon’s productivity on the court so far.

Nowhere has this been more apparent than on the defensive end. Sure, Calderon has recorded three steals to Lucas’ zero, but those who know basketball know that steals and blocks, while nice, don’t begin to tell the whole story when evaluating defensive play. What I’ve seen so far is Calderon getting torched by Sergio Llull and Brandon Knight and being the main reason for a lot of team defensive breakdowns early in games, only for Lucas to come in and steady the ship, granted, against mostly weaker guards.

For as much as we’ve all marveled at Lucas’ ability to score in bunches early in this pre-season, it’s been his superior defence that has helped the Raptors rebound from early deficits created by Calderon and others in the starting lineup.

Hopefully, this should help quiet the clowns who actually believed Calderon could push Lowry for the starting job in Toronto. Lowry is an effective offensive point guard who also happens to be among the top defensive players at his position. He’s starting when healthy, end of story.

Pre-season results mean next to nothing, and the usual porous defence hasn’t changed anything in my opinion of Jose. If anything, I’m only more impressed with the point guard depth the Raptors have at their disposal. Besides, Calderon is best suited to a bench role anyway, and at his best, I still think he can spearhead an excellent offensive second unit. In addition, we’ll all appreciate him a lot more as a solid, veteran leader of the bench than we will if we have to watch him be largely responsible for digging the team early holes as a starter.

But as is being asked everywhere among Raptors fans right now, what happens to Lucas when Lowry comes back? Dwane Casey is probably going to try to get Lowry as many pre-season minutes as possible with the rest of the starters, especially with Andrea Bargnani and perhaps even Jonas Valanciunas. But I’m not talking just pre-season.

If JL3 continues to impress, even in limited exhibition minutes while Lowry is worked back in, will the defensive minded Casey, who has talked about how much he loves Lucas (literally), really bury him on the bench come Halloween night and the rest of the regular season?

The obvious answers are that the Raptors are probably still thinking about trading Calderon’s expiring contract somewhere along the line this season, and in the mean time, Casey can give the undersized Lucas some spot minutes at the two with one of Lowry or Calderon on the floor.

But it begs the question, if what we’ve seen from Lucas in a very small sample of about 74 minutes so far is an indication of what he can bring to the table this season, then would Bryan Colangelo and co. perhaps consider moving Calderon earlier than expected?

Furthermore, while many were (foolishly) debating a possible point guard controversy between Lowry and Calderon heading into training camp, perhaps the real story here is going to be a backup point guard controversy. Not in the sense that Lucas or Calderon will actually cause problems within the team, but in the sense that neither of them is going to push Lowry for the starting job, while from what I’ve seen, they’re already pushing each other for the No. 2 job.

Oh, and apparently there was some B.S. Calderon to the Lakers rumour on twitter today.

Comments (44)

  1. Serious question, people were actually debating who should be the starting PG this season? SMH.

    I think it’s important to remember that Lucas came over from Chicago – one of the best, if not the best defensive teams in the league under TT. So he should definitely help in that regard.

    The PG depth is definitely a plus with Lowry’s injury history, but I wouldn’t have a problem with Lucas being the full time backup with Calderon gone. While he may not say it, I do believe he wants a bigger role with another team especially being in a contract year.

    Also, Calderon to the Lakers is just ridiculous. Last year it’s possible, but the Lakers have nothing to send back now. Who would the Raptors get back from them, Steve Blake, Chris Duhon, and Robert Sacre? Not a chance.

    I think if Calderon is traded, it’ll be to one of Chicago, Cleveland, or Washington.

  2. Thank you! for writing this blog. It’s about time someone steps up and “tells it how it is”. I mean, come on really?people were saying its a controversy at the point. Its not even close. Lowry is the teams starting pg hands Down. Calderon is finally getting bumped back to the bench where he should of been all along. He’s a back up pg that’s where his true value is to this team. He’s at his best when playing against second tier pg’s, that’s how he earned his fat contract way back when, playing behind t.j ford. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not a Calderon hater by any means, he just can’t lead this team to a playoff spot but can be a solid contributor coming of the bench. I wouldn’t even mind the raptors bringing him back but not at that price and not at a starting roll!.

  3. Joseph, I’ve never understood your opinion of Calderon. After reading a couple of paragraphs of the article, I scrolled back up to allay my suspicions that you were, indeed, the writer.

    Now, while I don’t deny the problems he causes with his defense, I don’t think you fully appreciate what he does on offense. His big problem is what he does isn’t flashy. He doesn’t do anything to make the average fan stand up and take notice. Whenever I talk about the effectiveness of Calderon, I’m often reminded of the first time I saw Mike Bibby play for the Grizzlies (in Vancouver, where I have lived for the past 18 years).

    Prior to the Grizzlies drafting Bibby, Greg Anthony ran the offense in Vancouver. He was a decent playmaker averaging more than 6.5 apg during his two years as a Grizzly. Not great, by any means, but 6.5 apg is a pretty decent stat for a PG.

    The first time I saw Bibby run the team, it was like a lightening bolt striking. From literally the first couple of minutes, it was obvious that while Anthony could play PG and set up his teammates, Bibby WAS a PG and understood how to run an offense. Mike James could rack up assists, but he had no clue about how to run an offense.

    John Lucas is a very good shooter and a much better defender than Calderon, but even when he had his great game against Detroit, on Friday, the one thing that was obvious to me is that he does really know how to run an offense. And Calderon does. There were countless times when Lucas was on the court that the offense looked horrible. One reason he hasn’t been able to stick with a team for more than a couple of years, and why he was signed as a third PG, is because he’s a shooter who plays PG because he’s too short to play SG.

    Calderon is no Steve Nash, but I can’t tell you how many times over the last 5 or 6 years the offense has sputtered when he left only to get back when he took the court again.

    People complain that Calderon doesn’t look for his own shot enough, but the fact is that a good PG can help everyone score. A shoot first PG can help one person score.

    • Tim, as good of a playmaker Calderon may be, the fact remains, he is horrible on defense, and porous defense does not win games.
      In essence, if he can’t guard his man, how good Calderon is offensively is irrelevant especially with a defensive minded coach in Casey, which is why Joseph ignored that point all together.

      • Calderon is not even that good of a playmaker. He does not push tempo or put a lot of pressure on the defense. He used to have a good pick-and-roll game and can hit open 3s, but that’s about it. He gets assists… but I would argue that statistic is illusory. Calderon gets his assists the way Bargnani gets points.

        • What Calderon does is run an offense, something only a handful of PGs in the NBA even understand how to do, and something the vast majority of fans apparently don’t see.

      • While Calderon is not a good defender (that can’t be denied) he’s not quite as bad a defender as some Raptor fans seem to think he is. Is he an ideal option for PG? No. Given a choice, I’d take Lowry over Calderon because of the defense. But given a choice between John Lucas and Calderon, I take Calderon because he’s simply a better player.

        And if the team is so interested in getting rid of problems on defense, there’s a big one that is slotted to start in a position where poor defense hurts the team a lot more than on the perimeter.

        • I’m with you at this point, Tim.

          This is pre-season, and while Lucas has excited the masses, the real test comes when the games count. At least that’s what Bargs is thinking.

          As to Calderon’s defensive issues, I think they can be covered by the quality defenders in the Secondary. What should be encouraged, is for Jose to shoot more – assuming his role becomes to lead said Bench.

          That being said, if Casey really does admire Lucas – as it seems to be – I’d prefer to see Raps move Jose while the world thinks everything is hunky dory in Raptor-Land. His value will rise once a few PG injuries start to develop.


    • Dude you are so wrong – you must be a Doug Smith blog regular! Calderon is not consistent, he cannot lead a team to be a winner. There is leading a team -then leading a winning team…JC can’t lead a winning team….he has proven that! He can’t be counted on to be a vocal leader, lead by example player or can he hit a shot with a player guarding him -he definitely can’t hit consistently the buzzer beater shot (which was proven again in the 1st exhibition game vs the Piston…open three shot, JC misses!) If he is SOOOO good why did the Raps make it a priority to go get a PG this summer?…not 1but 2!??! Your wrong when you say that the offense sputters w/o him – actually it is the opposite, the offense(2nd units)last year were responsible for holding the Raps in games and getting back leads -look at the number and stats they will tell you. If you go to the Tor-Star sports you and Doug Smith can have a “love-in” for JC…BUT the writing is on the wall – he is gone….sooner then most think!!! and Good riddance!

      • Youngjames,

        If you’re interested in discussing this intelligently, please let me know.

        • I’ve started – I’m waiting for you! Give me something creditable to support your point….your argument is based around your love of the player. Weak!

          • ahahahaha @youngjames

            clearly the last time you played ball, was the 2k13 demo…

            both you and tim w’s arguments are valid, the fact remains that Caldy is still a good PG. i agree that he should be coming off the bench, but when you have a guy that leads the league in asst/to ratio, i’d say thats pretty damn efficient. i don’t see where you got the idea that he couldn’t run an offence… it’s the Raps, he had DDR as a black hole, Primo was injured for a while and James Johnson as scoring options… c’mon man, be real. you and i both know that he wasn’t the (main) problem on O last season

          • Well, I don’t consider opening with a Doug Smith salvo to be a prelude to an intelligent discussion, but I’m game…

            “Calderon is not consistent, he cannot lead a team to be a winner.”

            Define “not consistent”. Calderon certainly has his weaknesses, but lack of consistency has never been one I’ve heard anyone complain of.

            “JC can’t lead a winning team….he has proven that!”

            How exactly has he proven that? By not being able to lift a roster with little talent? You’re blaming him for something few players would be able to do?

            And both times Calderon was in the playoffs, he bettered his stats in nearly every category.

            “He can’t be counted on to be a vocal leader, lead by example player or can he hit a shot with a player guarding him”

            Calderon has always been one of the more vocal players on the floor. Have you watched him? And why on earth would you say he can’t lead by example? He has probably been one of the most professional Raptors on the team since they signed him. He works hard, does whatever is asked, and is the epitome of a “lead by example” guy.

            As for not being able to hit a shot with someone guarding him, I’m assuming you were just being glib, because even a casual fan would see that’s not true.

            “he definitely can’t hit consistently the buzzer beater shot (which was proven again in the 1st exhibition game vs the Piston…open three shot, JC misses!) ”

            He definitely can’t consistently hit the buzzer beater? And you think his not being able to hit a three at the buzzer in one game is proof?

            In actual fact, Calderon tends to play well in clutch situations…

            And it may surprise you to learn that most buzzer beaters are missed, which is why guys like Jordan was so special. So the fact that Calderon can’t consistently hit the buzzer beater isn’t really a flaw, but a fact of life for the vast majority of NBA players.

            “If he is SOOOO good why did the Raps make it a priority to go get a PG this summer?…not 1but 2!??!”

            Uh, I don’t know. Why hasn’t it been a priority to trade Bargnani despite his obvious shortcomings? Why hasn’t it been a priority to actually build a contender instead of what we’ve seen the last 6 years? Just because the do something, doesn’t mean it has to make sense.

            “Your wrong when you say that the offense sputters w/o him – actually it is the opposite, the offense(2nd units)last year were responsible for holding the Raps in games and getting back leads -look at the number and stats they will tell you.”

            Can you back this up, with actual, you know, stats? Last season, Calderon had the highest offensive rating of any Raptor, and it wasn’t even close. And he also had the highest offensive win share.

            Now, I’ve never claimed he isn’t overpaid, or the answer for the Raptors at PG, but he is definitely much better than a lot of Raptor fans seem to give him credit for. The problem with the Raptors has not so much that they needed to upgrade their PG position, but that they needed to upgrade everything other position.

      • No doubt, Youngjames – That asst./turnover ratio everyone loves …
        I’ll take Steve Nash’s top five WORST turnover per game rate over that any day of the week.
        Have to take some chances to make things happen or else you’re just predictable and the next guy in the chain gets shut down and HE gets credited with the turnover or misses a shot.

        • So you’d take Steve Nash, one of the greatest PGs of all time of Jose Calderon. Wow, that’s going out on a limb. I’d also take Magic Johnson and John Stockton over him, too.

          Oh, and do you know who was second last season in assist to turnover ration last year? Chris Paul.

          And do you know where Nash was the previous season in assist to turnover ratio? 5th.

          Do you research your argument at all?

          • Tim…
            why did the Raps go out and get two new PG’s if all what you are saying is true?
            Why would they waste their time on Lowry and Lucas if JC is all that??
            Why did BC say he wants to trade JC?? (recently if he is everything your saying). Even as an expiring contract why would BC trade for Lowry and not re-up JC instead???
            why did BC already try and trade JC once before?
            You keep defending JC because of your “fan natured heart” and man-love for him – all we (who disagree with you) are saying is what BC has said and shown in the past 6 months or so…they too DON’T want to have others to over come his constant defensive laps – you DON’T build winners that way….they too see that t/o to assist ratio is a crap stat and total useless when you allow the other team (or your guy) to score 25 plus pts per night on defensive breakdowns.
            If you don’t agree, fine – but the experts disagree with what your evaluation on JC-the experts being the Raptors. Argue with them! I personal feel (like BC and Casey and ES) that JC is NOT the answer as a starting PG. The writer of this article raised the question- is JC better then JL3 as the back-up (who had 8 assist and double digit scoring) the other night against the Piston’s. JL3 was spectacular filling in for Rose with the Bulls last spring. JL3 brings more then just t/o to assist ratio to this team so much so that JC could (or should) be weaned out of the 2nd PG option. The team won’t sit JC cause that would decrease his trade value -so they will trade him (if they can) knowing they have a better supplement at the 2nd PG position in JL3. Watch and see -just like at the Olympics when Lull took over – Lucas will play more “crunch time”minutes then JC including last game winning opportunities – defense or offense.

          • “why did the Raps go out and get two new PG’s if all what you are saying is true?
            Why would they waste their time on Lowry and Lucas if JC is all that??
            Why did BC say he wants to trade JC?? (recently if he is everything your saying). Even as an expiring contract why would BC trade for Lowry and not re-up JC instead???
            why did BC already try and trade JC once before?”

            You apparently missed my answer to this the first time, but basically, this is a flawed premise, because you’re assuming Colangelo’s judgement is infallible, which it obviously is not. This is the same guy who thought adding a 38 year old PG to a 27 win team was a good idea (read this for reasons it was, in fact, not:

            Perhaps the reason that Colangelo has wanted to trade Calderon is because having him on the court at the same time as Bargnani only highlights Bargnani’s flaws, and COlangelo has stupidly put Toronto’s future on Bargnani.

            Either way, it doesn’t really matter. I don’t trust Colangelo’s judgement, and after what you’ve witnessed the last six years, neither should you.

            “You keep defending JC because of your “fan natured heart” and man-love for him”

            Anyone who knows me at all would laugh out loud at this statement. Plus, it’s got no place in intelligent conversation.

            “they too see that t/o to assist ratio is a crap stat and total useless when you allow the other team (or your guy) to score 25 plus pts per night on defensive breakdowns.”

            Well, first of all, a high assist to turnover ratio is very important for teams. Generally, teams with high assist to turnover ratios have more success. That’s not to downplay the important of defense, but the fact is that you, and many others, exaggerate the defense of Calderon. No, he’s not very good, but if you look back, you’ll see that his opponents are not having the career nights you seem to think. Some Raptor fans seem to think that a good defender will be able to keep his opponent out of the lane. Unfortunately, that’s not true in todays NBA, whose rules favour the offensive players. Not even Rajon Rondo can consistently keep guys out of the lane, which is why having a great defensive front line is so important.

            “If you don’t agree, fine – but the experts disagree with what your evaluation on JC-the experts being the Raptors.”

            Well, these so-called “experts” have made the playoffs just twice in 6 years, haven’t been able to acquire even one All-Star in that time (and lost the one they did have), thought Turkoglu was enough to make the team a contender, and I’ve already gone into their flawed strategy with Bargnani.

            That’s fine if you want to trust their judgement. I don’t.

            ” JL3 was spectacular filling in for Rose with the Bulls last spring.”

            No, he was decent. He started just two games last year, and all his percentages went down when he was asked to play more minutes. To use your own argument against you, if he was so spectacular, why didn’t the Bulls re-sign him and why were the Raptors able to sign him for not much more than the minimum?

          • my gawd! Tim- you have to be chic. You talk too much, I stopped reading a quarter way through.I don’t have the time you seem to have!

          • I just type and think fast.

    • Those are interesting points. I guess I’ll pay closer attention the next time I watch them play, but I kind of felt the opposite when I saw Calderon and Lucas playing. Maybe it was just because of the defense, but it seemed (to me) that when Lucas came in the offence ran better. With Calderon, the ball did swing around and perhaps there was more ball movement but he wasn’t breaking down the defense. With Lucas, it seemed like the opposing defense had to scramble more and he really put pressure on it. There was more penetration and thus more open looks.

      Overall though, I’ll be honest, I do think that if Lucas does end up getting major minutes we will start seeing more of his shot-chucking tendencies. He is a scorer first, and there will be games when his shot isn’t falling and it’s then that everyone will want to turn against him.


  4. GREAT read, man. This article is dead on….It is very refreshing to see a reporter in T.O call it like it is. Only if Doug Smith of The Toronto Star would stop infecting people (the very few that read his articles and so called blog) with his man love for Calderon when they question Calderon’s 10million dollar no defense worth. Whenever a reader doubts that Calderon can be no more then a second option -his responses are that of an old man who’s “golden boy” has reached and past his prime but he can’t admit it!. His writing are totally “Calderon propaganda”. D. Smiths sports knowledge is his opinion – how sad is that for us Raptor fans! THANK YOU for this article! Dead on!!!

  5. Joseph I think this might be your best article yet. Yes it’s only preseason but you can already tell this team would go nowhere with JC as the starter. The fact that he can’t keep his man in front causes so many problems. Guys have to help and are left scrambling. It’s exactly the reason why we were down big in the 1st q of the first 2 games. Of course this problem isn’t new, it’s been happening the last few years and I’m fed up of seeing it. If Lowry is healthy come opening night and Calderon is starting, I’d consider not even watching this season. I wouldn’t even say he’s a better PG than Lucas, who I’d rather see play behind Lowry.

    Teams are gonna want his fat contract coming off their payroll next yr, we need to trade Calderon and get a nice piece back.

  6. a couple exhibition games with calderon having better numbers with less playing time and the other guy is better? How about the fact that most pg can go around most pg its about the others stepping up with help defence. this is about the 3rd or 4th time a pg has come in to take calderon’s job and yet calderon is still here.For calderon’s sake i hope he gets traded.king james couldnt lead a winner either until he won and had wade with him.lets not forget that wade won with the heat without james. perhaps we should worry about the gm not the pg.

    • I’ve never argued that Lucas is a better PG than Calderon, but I do think he can push Jose for the backup role more than Jose can push Lowry for the starting job.

    • “this is about the 3rd or 4th time a pg has come in to take Calderon’s job and yet Calderon is still here”.

      This is not due to Calderon being better – it is because the team can’t move him. TJ was the starter – JC only played as the starter when TJ was hurt…TJ started all the play-off games too – they traded TJ because he had a serious (what turned out to be a career ending )injury. They tried to trade JC so Jarrett Jack could run the show, but MJ nixed that deal, so they traded the most trade able player which was JJ.
      5 good facts:
      1. Casey and Colangelo both have been talking about a new PG since late last season.
      2. BC’s number 1 goal in the off-season to get a number 1 PG and a wing player.
      3. The Raps first two moves they focused on this off-season was Nash then Lowry.
      4. No GM see’s value in Calderon at that price (this has been reported numerous times through numerous reporters) – look at the nixed deal with the Bobcats.
      5. Calderon and Colangelo both spoke at the beginning on training camp that JC is the most probable player to be traded -his value an expiring contract. It’s just about getting the right deal -almost every T.O and basketball reporters have reported this information (except Doug Smith of the Toronto Star), he strongly believes (and has even arrogantly said he has inside information) that JC is going to start. Everyone else not so much! D. Smith is the only reporter in sports that thinks he is bigger than the team he covers -just read his blogs!

      • Just for a bonus fact, Don’t forget the amnesty clause almost got slapped on his face the past summer by yours truly Bryan Colangelo. BC has come out publicly and admitted if he had agreed to a deal(s) i.e. a Nash signing or a Rudy Gay trade, he would of used it on Jose, Even though no names were mentioned. Another thing I wanna get off my chest is that im sick of fans saying Jose never had good players around him, i mean come on people, its time to stop making excuses for JC. The onus is on him for the raptors brutal failers of the previous seasons as he was suppose be on of the main core members of the team. He was one of the highest paid players if not the highest, and took up a large chunk of the salary cap which handicaped the team to use money to upgrade other positions. He didn’t live up to those expectations and didn’t deliver. He’s a backup point guard on a winning team at best and thats how he got the fat contract in the first place anyways way back when. Raptors fans should be thankful that the team has made a acquisition like Lowry in the off season. He’s a true “pit bull” as coach likes to put it. The “soft” label will officially be lifted of the raptors this season if it weren’t last season with a player like Kyle on the roster. I finally like what the team is doing to build for the long term, a team that contends each and every year. It might take a little bit more time but we’re close and on the right path.


  7. Calderon is in my top 3 favourite Raptors of all-time but this year he could well be the odd man out. Circumstances dictate it. Expirying deal and the fact that he will be wanted by some team either hit by injuries or looking to deepen their PG position for a playoff push.
    A short, journeyman, 30 year old point guard has to be approached with caution, but Lucas has made a good first impression
    The hypocrisy regarding him is surprising. First line of defence is a must and we have had none during the last few season’s. If Jose’s D approached average it could be accepted, but his D is about as weak as it gets.

    • Perhaps hypocrisy isn’t something you should bring up.

    • Hate to pile on Jose, because he is an excellent player, but in my opinion his offense is barely starter quality as well.
      Just too timid initiating the offense, has little instinct for feeding the post which is now more important than ever and really, by this stage in his career he shouldn’t be looking to the bench for a play call nearly every time down the floor.

  8. Calderon looks to have his shot back for the first time in a couple years really, and Lucas has a motor and an over all good player. I’m impressed with Lucas, But Calderon is the 2nd PG and our sixth man, he needs to get a little looser, take a few more chances with his passes, I sometimes find him to be to solid of a pg, I see many many creative plays that I would make, and yes I can pass the ball, that he does not make because he is to safe. But as long as we help each other on defense and let it fly on offense, we’ll be good. & Lucas will see minutes, it’s all about match ups, every game, its all about match ups. It’s something the Raptors have lacked, is a coach wether head or assistant that just has a knack for match ups and what players wqill do well with one another.

  9. In a sense I think everybody’s right. Jose’s offensive IQ is underrated by his detractors, but at the same time he doesn’t seem to be ageing well. I’ve got a bad feeling that his lack of athleticism/mobility that leads to his poor defence is getting worse.

    But John Lucas III? Seriously? After two pre-season games? Seriously????

    JL3 has career stats of 5 ppg, 1.3 apg, and a .398 fg%. He’s 30, and this will only be the 5th season he’s managed to crack an NBA roster. Nobody, NOBODY should be celebrating the fact that this guy may be good enough to be the team’s backup point guard. Nobody.

  10. I personally think that Kyle Lowry is overrated as he was not that consistent a shooter .414 despite being third in the team in scoring. He got beat out by Goran Dragic for heaven’s sake, and the Rockets were willing to trade him to the raps for next to nothing. I doubt that Gary Forbes will make the team, let alone play any minutes for the Rockets–he barely did in Toronto until very late in the season. I can see Lowry bombing this season because of all the high expectations put upon him.

  11. The raps and their fans are thankless. No wonder every player jumps ship. Calderon has accepted everything since being here. He shoulda asked for a trade a long time ago. He would be a solid contributer on a contending team.


      • Yes, King!!!!! respects

      • where in my comment did i say he was a starter? let’s see how far raps go with lucas as the 2nd PG. fans also need to stop having wet dreams about lowry. if he was so good why did the rockets trade him? let the season play out before you bust a nutt.

        • You’re trying to debate someone who doesn’t know how to turn his caps lock off?


  12. BC still believes in Jose since he likes his pick and roll play. He even said when JV comes over he would benefit allot from Jose’s style of play. As you can see in the preseason, that’s how JV got most of his points. I believe they just got John Lucas to add more PG depth. Since Lowry might get injured, he’s there as a good backup. Also, there might be a chance to see both point guards on the floor in tough situations.

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