T.J. Ford. Jarret Jack. Jerryd Bayless.
These are all guards that the Toronto Raptors have had in recent years that have been involved in a “point guard controversy” with one Jose Manuel Calderon. Each and every time, Calderon has come out as the sole point guard leader of this team. Let’s look at each of these guards a bit further.
T.J. Ford: Acquired in exchange for Charlie Villanueva in 2006. Former 2003 lottery pick of the Milwaukee Bucks. He sustained a serious neck injury which severely affected his play. Traded to the Indiana Pacers in 2008 for Jermaine O’Neil.
Jarret Jack: Signed for $20 million over four years. Former 2005 22nd overall pick of the Denver Nuggets (rights traded to the Portland Trailblazers on draft night). Had a great relationship with former Raptor Chris Bosh (college teammates at Georgia Tech). Was forced to share point guard duties with Calderon. Traded to the New Orleans Hornets in 2010 for Peja Stojakovic and Bayless.
Jerryd Bayless: Acquired in exchange for Jack in 2010. Former 2008 lottery pick of the Indiana Pacers (rights traded to the Trailblazers on draft night). Never got a fair opportunity to show what kind of player he could have become. He was let go by the Raptors in the summer of 2012.
Three point guards. One good, one solid, and one was a prospect. All pushed out town for Calderon’s safe style of play. What is the common factor in each of these controversies? Calderon. Assets and players have been moved in and out of this organization as a result of one player.
I’m just going to come out and say it; Calderon is an average NBA level point guard and has been one of the many reasons for our mediocrity since he arrived on this team. I have never been a fan of him even though I know he is a fan favourite. I just can’t respect a player that doesn’t play defense (one of his many flaws).
Is he completely useless? No. He’s a great shooter (one of the few players that has a 50-40-90 season) and a very efficient pick-and-roll play maker. He is also one of the best point guards at taking care of the rock, evident by his extremely high assist-to-turnover ratio (usually hovers around four).
The Raptors currently have a point guard on their roster who is arguably the best is franchise history and he’s only played in 31 games (how sad is that?). He’s great at attacking the basket, has a smooth jump shot, defends tenaciously, rebounds well for his 6 foot frame, and just wants to win. He is in my opinion a top 10 point guard in the NBA. He also comes off the bench and averages only 28 minutes per game. Kyle Lowry should be given the keys to run the team and Calderon needs to be traded or benched. Calderon is not, I repeat, not the reason for the Raptors’ win streak in December. We won because of the absence of Andrea Bargnani and great team play (but that is a different discussion). Why is it that whenever we played a good team recently, we lost? Calderon is incapable of making us win against these elite teams, and fans need to accept this.
This is a case for Lowry to start and be the unquestioned point guard of this team. He is still only 26 and has a ton of room for improvement.
Lowry’s average stats per 36 minutes: 18 points per game, eight assists, and six rebounds.
Some advanced stats courtesy of Basketball Reference and Synergy Sports:
Lowry’s PER (player efficiency ratio): 21.2 which is good enough to lead the Raptors, funny enough.
Lowry’s PPP, offense (points per possession while on offense): 1.01 vs. Calderon’s 0.96.
Lowry’s PPP, defense (points per possession given up while on defense): 0.77 vs. Calderon’s 0.87.
The numbers just do not lie. These are all-star calibre numbers and they’re coming from a guy coming off the bench.
Statistically, Lowry is a superior guard to the average Calderon we have been starting for all these years. Lowry has been put in coach Dwane Casey’s doghouse for the last month and has even been in trade rumours. Lowry even changed his game up in order to better the team. Yet he’s still in the doghouse. I didn’t even mention the best part yet; Lowry has one of the best valued contracts in the NBA. He resigned with the Houston Rockets in 2010 for $23 million over four years. Since then, he has improved every year as a player. Calderon resigned with the Raptors in 2008 for $45 million over five years. For perspective: Stephen Curry resigned with his team for $44 million over four years and Jrue Holiday got $41 million over four years. Calderon has been the same player every year, keeping us on this never ending treadmill of mediocrity.
Let’s avoid another point guard controversy and ship out Calderon as soon as possible, for whatever value he can yield. Luckily, Calderon’s contract is finally expiring this year so hopefully the Raptors can move him before the February 21st trade deadline or let him walk this summer.
Lowry needs to be allowed to run the team and coach Casey needs to instill confidence in the young guard. Toronto fans have become too complement to mediocrity in recent years that they will accept just any players coming to their teams. Well I won’t. A change needs to be made and it should start with the future of our point guard position.
Tweet me at @JaySudhir or use the hash tag #RaptorsCage to send comments. I want to hear your opinions.
Photo credit: The Canadian Press