The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Jose Calderon’s game must change

Posted by Arsenalist on September 9, 2008

It’s tough man, it’s tough to not like Jose Calderon’s assist to turnover ratio and insane FG percentage and that’s probably why he comes in at #33 in Fan House’s Top 50 NBA players list. Calderon earned the credit and the contract last year by usurping TJ Ford as the man at the point in Toronto by showing Bryan Colangelo why he’s the floor general the Raptors needed. But you know what’s similar about Jamario Moon and Jose Calderon? If they have the exact same year again we’re in big trouble.

We’ve already discussed the areas where Moon needs to improve so that the wing hole can look smaller but Calderon is an entirely different matter. Last year he got a lot of his assists by kicking out to open 3-pt shooters and finding jump-shot ready Parker, Kapono or even Moon for open shots. His assists weren’t spectacular like TJ Ford’s but came more naturally and in the run-of-play. The drive-n-kick worked well for him last year and he often dominated the ball in the pick ‘n roll situation which fed him a lot of his assists.

Coming into next year the dynamics of his game will have to change. The pick ‘n roll will still be featured but you have to think O’Neal and Bosh’s post-up games will be front and center in the Raptors’ offense which means Calderon will be handling less of the ball and relying on the Bosh/O’Neal outlet to supply the trigger in the offense. The other adjustment teams will make this year is to not double off of Calderon’s man since he proved last season that he can hit the deep two or the three. Just like Bargnani failed to adjust in his second year to the personal space being taken away, Calderon will be given the option to put the ball on the floor rather than to launch uncontested jumpers. Life will get tougher for Jose, no doubt about that.

One of the criticisms against him has been that he’s a little too careful with the ball and doesn’t push it enough for the Raptors to get easy baskets. I tend to agree with this opinion. There has to be a happy medium between Jose Calderon pulling back in 4 on 2’s and TJ Ford forcing it in 1 on 4’s. Calderon has to make the defense fear him when he gets the ball early in the shot-clock after a defensive rebound. And this year we will be getting more defensive rebounds, with O’Neal and Bosh manning the boards you have to think we’re going to clear more rebounds and have more opportunities for early running via the 25-45 foot outlet pass. If Jose starts pulling back in these situations its going to cost us easy buckets and build inherent frustration in Bosh and O’Neal since a big man loves to see easy baskets off his rebounds. Again, nobody’s asking him to do the drugs TJ was doing but maybe a pill here and there wouldn’t hurt.

The Raptors were guilty of getting to poor starts last year and with a rookie backing him up you have to wonder just how much Sam Mitchell can afford to rest Jose Calderon in the first quarter. He’ll likely be playing 11 of the first 12 minutes and probably 9 in the second quarter for 20 in the half. Last year he averaged 30.3 minutes a game and seemed stretched late in the season. This year he’ll have to undoubtedly play more minutes and produce more, how will these new expectations affect him? Truth is that we don’t know, he appears to be in excellent shape and looks like he could play heavy minutes and still produce consistently. The challenge here isn’t Calderon’s though, it’s Sam Mitchell’s and how well he hides his weak backup PG situation. Simply increasing Calderon’s minutes and hoping he produces more is not exactly coaching and I hope Sam has figured that out.

Let’s talk some X’s and O’s and get back to the double-teaming of Bosh or O’Neal. Assuming we have the lineup of Calderon, Parker, O’Neal, Moon and Bosh on the floor and one of our big men gets doubled, who does the defense leave? I’d rank the defense’s options as:

1) Jamario Moon
2) Jose Calderon
3) Anthony Parker

There’s no doubt that the double will come from Jamario’s man in this case and he’ll either be forced to shoot or the defense will rotate to leave Calderon and then Parker open. It goes without saying that the spacing in these cases needs to be perfect. For example, imagine if next to Moon for whatever reason stood Bosh in the 15-19 foot area? The whole thing would be a damn disaster since the swing sequence would be altered and we’d have to reset. Anyway, now if we replace Jamario Moon with Jason Kapono in that lineup, the defense simply cannot afford to double! That is the offensive lineup that the Raptors hope to kill teams with. If for whatever reason that lineup fails to fire, impending doom looms.

That’s it for today. I might have some big site news in a few days.

10 Responses to “Jose Calderon’s game must change”

  1. Malefax said

    For the exact reasons you mentioned, I expect Kapono to be the starter at the beginning of the season. With Moon on the floor, it’s obvious who’s man double teams. With Kapono on, what are your options? All are bad. Plus, Moon’s defense and rebounding will be much less necessary with JO on the floor. I expect Moon to come on when JO comes off (although obviously he wouldn’t be subbing for JO directly).

  2. Arsenalist said

    Good point Malefax, Moon’s rebounding will be less important but the perimeter defense issue is still there. I’m not sure how good a defender you think Kapono is but I don’t see him cutting it for extended periods at the SF.

  3. Johnn19 said

    Calderon’s game (job) will not change that much, as he still will get the ball to the open man to shoot, and in to the post, or the open man, or take the shot on the pick and roll, or on kick out 3’s.
    He may take advantage of the open man in the post more with O’neal available. He only takes open shots as it is. He may need to drive to the hoop and draw fouls more than he has, to take advantage of his free throw ability.
    He needs to score 12/15 points per game and 8/10 assists in 34/36 mins to direct and augment the offense.
    With Ukic and Solomon as back ups the 2nd unit offense should be improved over Calderon’s back-ups of Martin and Dixon, during his starts last year, ensuring the need for him not to play 40/41 mins.

  4. khandor said

    The Raptors poor starts last season were mostly attributable to the since departed former starting PG.

    There’s a new sheriff in town now.


    Calderon WILL be more aggressive with the ball in transition this year … when the situation calls for it … because he knows that this is now his team.

    Jose is NOT cautious with the ball … Jose is an extremely sound decision-maker with the ball in his hands.


    If the Raptors start games with …

    Bosh, O’Neal, Moon, Parker & Calderon

    opponents will cover down in the post off of, in order:

    Moon, Parker and then Jose.

  5. eric said

    i think people can speculate all you want right now but they thing is none of you know whats going to happen…and it says the raps have a weak back up pg situation…i dont know about that


  6. Dave said

    The most important improvement I want to see from Calderon is better defense. The second is to shoot the ball more often.

    I’d love to see him push the ball harder too but I also question how much help he’ll get on the break? Kapono … Parker …. Moon will run hard. A lot of times he’ll end up with limited options. The big men are both able to run though which will be nice.

    On Parker and Kapono I’m questioning how good they would be filling the lanes for Calderon on the break. They’re acceptable but not talented open court players. Jose doesn’t have great running mates for a fast break laced offense.

    On Jamario Moon ….

    I think his rebounding is just as important as last season. His defense is also just as important as last season.

    His movement off the ball offensively is also just as important as last season. The Raptors need a guy like Moon who’ll cut and create movement. He’s easily the best player on the squad off the ball. His man doubles off him he just needs to run down the middle, or too the FT line, and force the defense to react. The Raps need that movement to diversify their offense.

    Moon’s jump shot isn’t a large issue when he’s alongside two great shooters (guards) and two good scorers (bigs). Having that second scorer actually makes it a lot easier for the Raptors to play Jamario Moon big minutes …… versus last season when the Raptors where overly dependent on shooters to create space for limited second scoring options (who needed that space in order to be effective, otherwise Bosh ended up too isolated), so Moon ended up becoming a liability in several situations. Bringing a guy like Jermaine O Neal makes it easier to play Jamario Moon larger minutes.

    Also Moon’s jump shot is below par, not awful or atrocious. His jumpshooting isn’t bad enough for the opposition to completely collapse their defense and ruin the Raptors offense. His shot simply isn’t bad enough for that to happen.

  7. FAQ said

    Arsenaliste: I tend to disagree with you saying that Calderon’s game must change. I think the other player’s games must change because Calderon will deliver the ball to them on offense on a more regular basis and they will have to produce from the opportunities presented to them. No more one-man TJ show.

    Jose appreciates the other players moreso than taking on the scoring load himself. He will break down the defense by utilizing his players to do that. If he is defended closely, he will move the ball quickly, and if he is loosely defended he has the ability to burn the defender by shooting or driving. He has the state of mind to do the right thing.

    Jose in not cautious or timid; he is selective and a floor general who uses his troops to the max. Perhaps even Joey might benefit with Jose leading the team on offense. TJ reminded me of the several ballhogging PGs I played with on high school teams and ignorant coaches didn’t correct the situation. College coaches would/should not allow that because that makes for bad/losing bball .. even though it might be flashy and satisfying for the deluding tribal honking geeks who fantacise that is them .. their hero.

    Jose plays a team concept game … whereas TJ didn’t/couldn’t .. and that is what pissed me off as I was reminded of my past suffering on the bball court watching somebody trying to carry the team on their shoulders and failing while making the rest of the team redundant. Sam/BC must have had the same feelings about TJ. Now let’s watch Jose play the game as it is supposed to be played … as a team … and even players such as Kobe and LeBron would prefer that too.

    Hero worship is for jerks who only watch the NBA for fantasy .. the non-athletic crud that they are …. ppprrrfffttt

  8. random fan said

    Just a little note on the personality of Jose Calderon…
    I was wasting some time walking in toronto’s biggest mall on the weekend.
    And there he was, with a friend, just walking around after buying sneakers and sitting on a bench for a bit.
    Not many people recognize him I guess (not the typical basketball player look or size). He he seemed down to earth.
    The building i work in has most of the Raptor’s doctors i guess because i bump into them on elevators often.
    Jermaine O’neal, wears at least 100k$ worth of jewelery and travels with people who look ready and willing to break someone’s neck.
    Respect to a multi million dollar athlete when he acts like the average joe/

  9. Arsenalist said

    random fan: thanks a lot for that. He totally comes off like a very humble guy that isn’t affected by how much money he makes. He’s not a “bling bling” type and is committed to winning which is very evident in every interview he’s ever given and his on-court demeanor. I love to have people like those on the team.

  10. […] – The Arsenalist […]

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