While a lot of Raptors fans’ time is spent worrying about a lack of respect within the NBA – whether it’s the media, the officials, opposing players, etc. – two players that a lot of Raptors fans probably undervalued thesemlves heading into the season are the two guys responsible for keeping this team respectable while Kyle Lowry remains out of the lineup, as Jose Calderon and DeMar DeRozan had as impressive a week as we’ve seen from either, and people have taken notice.

Calderon averaged 13 points and 13.5 assists in 40 minutes per game over four games this past week, which included his first career triple-double, one of only four recorded in the NBA so far this season. I’d even go so far as to say that since the Raptors pulled out a couple of wins in the process, Calderon might have even got some Eastern Conference Player of the Week consideration (LeBron won it for the second time in three tries this season), though I also thought Kyle Lowry would when he was one of the five best players in the NBA during opening week.

A quick twitter search for “Jose Calderon” today returns links to people writing glowingly about the veteran point guard and statements of Calderon being among the most underrated players in the game. While we all have our qualms with Calderon’s flaws – specifically his defence – no one can deny that he has stepped up when the Raptors have been dealt injury blows in the past, and this recent stretch has been no different. In six starts since Lowry went down with an ankle injury in Oklahoma City, Jose is averaging nearly 13 points and 12 assists per game while shooting over 45 per cent from the field and a ridiculous 57.7 per cent from three-point range. He’s also adding a steal per game during this run and has displayed some surprisingly improved defence at the point of attack.

Calderon’s run might not be sustainable, but if the Raptors can get Lowry back quicker than initially feared and are still in tact with a manageable record at that point, Jose’s recent performance will be justifiably praised later this season. I’m sure we’ll all be complaining about his defence, his lack of risk taking or something else about him in the near future, but for now, let’s just enjoy Calderon’s play.

As for DeRozan, I don’t have to remind you that I was among the staunchest critics of his four-year, $38 million extension, which I thought (and still believe) was premature. A 10-game stretch of good basketball is nowhere near a large enough or consistent enough example to convince me to change my tune on the contract just yet, but I have to admit, DeMar has both seriously impressed and encouraged me over the last few weeks.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers has also taken notice, talking about how DeRozan has improved a lot in various areas of the game and that he has become “a total basketball player.” Rivers also adds that people sleeping on DeRozan has nothing to do with him playing in Toronto but rather the fact that he plays for a losing team in general. An indication that DeMar is getting recognized is his place in John Hollinger’s early season surprises, even more impressive when you consider that DeRozan didn’t exactly endear himself to Hollinger earlier this year.

DeMar’s not only scoring more efficiently (DeRozan’s one of only 10 players in the NBA right now averaging 19 points or more on 45% shooting or better), but he’s also rounding out his game with solid rebounding from the wing, much more focused defence and an all around improved awareness on the court.

If there was one thing DeRozan supporters could argue when the contract was signed, it was that DeMar had a chance to establish himself as one of the NBA’s best young shooting guards. The reason being, of course, that other than James Harden, there are no clear cut future stars at the two-spot currently playing in the NBA to take the torch from aging players like Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Manu Ginobili, Joe Johnson, etc (I realize that Kobe is having an aswesome, age defying season right now, and in no way am I writing him off, but he doesn’t have many years left in the tank).

Well take a look at the Eastern Conference right now, and you’ll see that DeRozan leads all Eastern shooting guards in scoring, free throw attempts per game and minutes per game, while also ranking in the top-three among Eastern shooting guards in rebounds per game, rebounds per minute and rebound rate. Open it up to all shooting guards in the NBA, and DeMar still ranks in the top-eight in these rebounding categories while ranking fifth in scoring.

All that, and DeRozan remains a 23-year-old work in progress in the first month of his fourth professional season. In other words, there is still plenty of room for improvement.

So no, I’m not ready to say that the contract was a worthwhile gamble or that DeRozan has “figured it out” from here to eternity and will suddenly blossom into the superstar we’ve all been craving in Toronto, but I will say that he’s showing us signs of taking a giant leap forward as a complete basketball player, and that has to be encouraging for Raptors fans, regardless of what you previously personally believed about DeMar.

A month ago, if you had asked me who people would be praising on this team, I would have said Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas (both of whom obviously deserve their own credit). Had you asked me about Jose Calderon and DeMar DeRozan, I would have immediately talked about trading the former and losing faith in the latter, and I know I’m not the only Raptors fan who felt that way.

It’s still early and it’s too easy to feel good about certain players in November, but I’d say both Calderon and DeRozan have quieted those talks for now.

Comments (35)

  1. I want Jose to stay and get his jersey retired in toronto. He can help make Kyle a better passer. I have to also point out what’s so bad about having two starting caliber point guards. Jose deserves to be here and at the very least get 20-25 minutes a game. You can forget about Lucas for now and when we actually get the chance to get a point guard it will most likely come through the draft. Add the fact that Jose loves Toronto I say keep him and resign him at 3-4 million a year.

  2. Nice article. Glad Calderon has been such a steady workman throughout his career. Always relied on to steady the pace and hit clutch jumpers. Despite his clap in the face D, reluctance to push the pace regularly and that entry lob pass turnover against the Nets, he should garner a standing ovation any time he steps foot in the ACC once his time is up.

  3. Demar – 10 games is a good sample size to say that he’s shown marked improvement in almost all facets of his game.

    I was a little apprehensive about his contract extension but he’s earning it and more this year. Could be BC’s better moves this season.

  4. Why does it seem Doc Rivers says something nice about the raptors after they toally destroy us

  5. What this article fails to mention is how horrible Calderon is on defence, and how he fails to meet expectations when he plays against good to elite point guards. Raptors played the magic, pacers and jazz this week.. and every game even though the Raptors were playing against a mediocre or backup point guard in the NBA.. Calderon would get broken down and help would have to come from Amir, Ed or Jonas and teams like the Jazz would get wide open shots all game long. What good is a player who can only play one way, we already have one in Bargnani.. we don’t need another… I hope lowry comes back quick

    • Kyle Lowry is obviously the better and more game changing point guard – that’s why we ALL want him back as quickly as possible. Also, I almost always mention Calderon’s porous defence, but his D has been much better over the last couple of weeks to the point where it has almost been respectable.

      • I disagree with that, typical Toronto media still trying to defend Calderon and Bargnani. There were many games this week where Calderon looked lost on defense and was unable to stay in front of his opposition for more than 3 seconds. And when it was time to play a good point guard, in this case Rondo… Rondo racked up 20 assists when he was still injured. When they played the jazz… Mo williams was able to penetrate the lane several times dishing off to Millsap and company on the perimeter, because other raptors players have to account for Calderon’s lackluster defense. I don’t care how good he is on offense, that doesn’t matter if he is going to be a pylon on defense.

        • If we didn’t have Calderone we would be screwed right now. I agree his defensive game is frustrating, but if he keeps puting up these kinds of numbers, it’s hard not to cheer for the guy. The raps can win this road trip (3 out the 4 is possible, 4 out out of 4 If they can beat Philly tomorrow). Jose is the motor that is driving this team right now, give him a fucking break.

        • Yeah, Now it seems that Toronto looses because Calderon defence, and otherplayer like rondo are able to go off to 20 assists only because Calderon defence, whats next also? Aron gray gets minuets becuase Calderon too?

      • I KNOW YOU DON’T BELIEVE THAT

  6. Calderon and Derozan are doing the same thing they always do. Jose is still playing well despite the frothing at the mouth hatred he gets for not being flashy enough. Demar is still a guy who isn’t really any good at anything, but he takes more shots so people call him a “scorer”

    • LOL what? Jose was so inconsistent last year, he was up and down all season long. Don’t make it out to be he was some all-star player… I could name at least 20 point guards in the NBA who are much better than he is on both ends of the floor. He is a bottom 5 point guard who is way overpaid. $10 Mill a year, what a joke. Now i agree that the derozan deal was pretty awful however him and lowry have been the two bright spots on this team since day 1 of the season. He is averaging 19 ppg on 15 shots, and attacking the rim instead of setting for jumpers, its not his fault that the refs never give him any respect.. How many times has he driven to the rim and got hacked a hundred times and no call. Anyway, long story short… bargnani used to take nearly 20 shots a game last year and only average like 21 ppg, thats terrible, now derozan is taking 15 shots a game… and you’re going to call him out for taking too many shots.. smh, toronto people don’t know shit about basketball, go watch hockey

      • Name the point guards then, please.

        • I’ll do it..

          Let’s just start in our division shall we… Lowry, Jrue Holliday, Rondo, Deron, Felton, Kidd.. then central.. rose, irving, jennings, hill, jeff teague, kemba walker, chalmers, john wall… thats like 14 and i could have named backup point guards like hinrich and devin harris

          Alright.. in the west…darren colison, conley, parker, ty lawson, rubio, lilliard, westbrook, mo williams, steph curry, cp3, dragic, nash, tyreke evans

          wow I named another 14, this was too easy.. the better question is.. it would just be a lot easier to ask “name the point guards who are worse than jose calderon”. You would end up with a much smaller list

      • THANKS DANTE SPOKEN LIKE A TRUE BALLER!

    • This has got to be one of the dumbest comments I’ve seen on here in a while. Demar not good at anything? LOL

      • What’s he good at?
        Rebounding? no
        Playmaking? no
        Shooting? nope
        Defence? not really
        Getting to the line is he’s any good at, which is just a function of how many shots he manages to take, not a Cory Maggette level of skill.

        Not that he’s particularly bad at anything, bot he’s just a meh bench player with delusions of grandeur.

        • are you stupid? you could say the same thing about everyone ? also derozans a better defender than most of the team. Shooting.. well he shoots 45% from the field which is better than both calderon and bargnani.. who shoot 43% and 35%

          Calderon…
          Rebounding ? no
          Playingmaking ? not really
          Shooting? not really since he shoots worse than DD
          Defense? hell fuckin no, hes a pylon on defense

          getting to the line? barely ever 1 FT/game.. LOL

          • btw..
            Calderon overpaid? HELL YEA

          • TRADE ANDREA & LINAS KLEIZA, GIVE TERRANCE ROSS, ED DAVIS & JONAS MORE PLAYING TIME THEY GOT TALENT N NEED TO DEVELOP, FIRE COLANGELO, DRAFT ANDREW WIGGINS WE NEED A STAR PLAYER ON THIS TEAM AND ALOT MORE PEOPLE WILL BE IN THOSE SEATS

  7. I blame colangelo for all of this, he has not done a damn thing in the 7 years he has been here. He doesn’t know how to draft properly, cant trade for anyone, and then signs everyone to ridiculous contracts. $6M/year for landry fields, $10M/year for derozan, $10M/ bargnani, $10M/ calderon.. what the hell is going on? but as for the the jose calderon debate. Yes, he is terrible on defense, and he really hasn’t improved at all in the last few years. Toronto media and announcers always hype up these european scrubs making them out to be huge stars cause they came from Europe. They are all one dimensional, can shoot but besides that they can’t do anything else. Colangelo needs to go, enough is enough.. he has never accomplished anything.. even in phoenix, it was his dad making all those decisions and even still they didn’t win a damn thing there. He needs to stop riding his daddys coattails

  8. I don’t think everyone is saying he’s suddenly an all-star, or even a legit starter. Or worth $10 M/yr. But he’s helped keep the team from completely falling apart in Lowry’s absence, and been better than many expected.

    All hate aside, Calderon is playing his appropriate role perfectly right now – he’s one of the L better backup point guards, and he can step in for a few games as a starter without a huge drop-off in production from Lowry.

  9. @Warrior King, Andre, and Dante

    You know what’s funny? You guys know everything about the Raptors, and take time out of your day to read blogs on the Raptors, yet you don’t have a good thing to say about them. Fuck off already and go read blogs for the team you cheer for.

    • HEY LOSER STOP BEING SUCH A little girl

    • GO TO A GYM AND LEARN HOW TO PLAY BALL, THEN YOU WOULD UNDERSTAND THAT COMPARED TO OTHER NBA GUARDS YOUR GIRLFRIEND CALDERON SUCKS! NOW CRY YOURSELF TO SLEEP!

  10. @Sly

    Undoubtedly – what a useless comments thread, thanks to these guys. Please keep the mindless juvenile crap to RealGM.

  11. After watching calderon’s poor play today.. I have to agree with the above posts, calderon is terrible and hasnt showed any signs of improvement. Holiday continously burned him off hte dribble tonight and either finding an open man on the wing or getting an easy lay up. It was like watching a man against a little baby, just getting abused on every position. Sorry guys he needs to go!

  12. TRADE ANDREA & LINAS KLEIZA, GIVE TERRANCE ROSS, ED DAVIS & JONAS MORE PLAYING TIME THEY GOT TALENT N NEED TO DEVELOP, FIRE COLANGELO, DRAFT ANDREW WIGGINS WE NEED A STAR PLAYER ON THIS TEAM AND ALOT MORE PEOPLE WILL BE IN THE SEATS

  13. http://goo.gl/qCQYL4 This is 100% true, You can earn upto 30,000$ this month.

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