At the inception of Phil Jackson‘s roster demolition, the New York Knicks traded for point guard Jose Calderon. The working theory was that he was a necessary acquisition to move the likes of Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton.
Over a calendar year later, Calderon appears to be more than just a residual roster piece.
Head coach Derek Fisher plans to enter the 2015-16 NBA regular season with Calderon as his starting point guard. Rookie Jerian Grant and second-year defensive specialist Langston Galloway could potentially steal that job, but thus far, Calderon has it locked up.
Unfortunately, the only expectations Knicks fans have for Calderon are based on an injury-plagued 2014-15 season—something Calderon readily acknowledged, per Marc Berman of The New York Post.
"“It was mostly because of the health,’’ Calderon said. “When you can’t perform 100 percent on court, it’s tough these days to do anything — offense, defense. I feel great. It’s different. Sometimes you play better with some teammates than others. It’s different personnel. I’m feeling comfortable with these guys.’’"
There’s no question that Calderon struggled in 2014-15, but when healthy, Calderon can be an invaluable asset.
In 2013-14, playing in an off-ball role that could reflect his 2015-16 usage, Calderon was superb for the Dallas Mavericks. He averaged 11.4 points, converting 191 3-point field goals on a slash line of .456/.449/.825.
If he does the same for New York, he’ll have earned his place in the starting lineup.
If he doesn’t, Galloway and Grant could be champing at the bit.
Calderon also has four seasons with at least 8.0 assists per game—a telling sign of his superb court vision. He’s a selfless player who prefers to set his teammates up, but isn’t afraid to attack from mid-range or beyond the arc.
Calderon may have struggled in 2014-15, but he expects to play significantly better in 2015-16 with good health on his side.
"“Much better, no pain. No calf injury, 100 percent,’’ Calderon said in listing the differences between this year and his first Knicks camp. “I don’t know what people were expecting. Maybe they were expecting an All-Star season. I’m not that kind of player, but I’ll help my team better this year. I was disappointed, too.’’"
It’s absolutely vital to have players who know their role, and that’s exactly what Calderon is.
Calderon has never been the type of player who demands field goal attempts or plays with reckless abandon. Instead, he’s a responsible and creative playmaker who takes care of the basketball.
For his career, Calderon has a slash line of .475/.412/.875 and an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.9.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, Calderon is one of three players in NBA history with career averages of at least 6.5 assists and less than 2.0 turnovers. His accumulated mark of .4116 percent from 3-point range ranks No. 16 all-time.
By most means and measures, Calderon is the prototypical pure offensive point guard.
Defensively, Calderon has never done much to impress the NBA community. As an offensive commodity, however, he’s as capable a playmaker as you’ll find.
Asked if he’s lost a step, Calderon’s rebuttal was a thing of gold:
"“I don’t think I lost a step. I’m smarter. I gained a step up here.’’"
Calderon will have an immediate shot at redemption as the opening-night starting point guard.
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