Although the Toronto Raptors improved on last season's win total despite playing 16 fewer games, they still have to make some changes if they plan on making the playoffs next season.
One of the things the Raptors can do to improve is trade starting point guard Jose Calderon.
There is no question Calderon had a good season for Toronto this year, but he will turn 31 in September, and 2011-12 will probably be the best season of his career. The Raptors would get the most value out of Calderon by trading him this offseason, especially to a team desperate for a point guard.
Although Calderon is a good shooter and passer, he is one of the worst defensive guards in the league. He constantly lets the other team's point guard dominate against Toronto. Dwane Casey is a defensive-minded coach and would prefer a point guard who can run the offense, but still can contribute on the defensive end.
The Raptors should trade Calderon for a player who can play small forward. Small forward has long been a position of weakness for the Raptors, and they need to do better than James Johnson next season.
The Utah Jazz were not comfortable with Devin Harris as their point guard, and they also have a $10.8 million trade exception that expires in December. Swapping Calderon for the exception plus a second-round pick would help both teams, as Utah would have the point guard it needs and Toronto could use the exception to acquire a small forward from another team.
With the small forward position addressed, the Raptors could then use their lottery pick on Weber State point guard Damian Lillard.
Lillard is the best point guard prospect in the draft. He is a very good shooter and can attack the rim, too. Lillard is a much better on-ball defender than Calderon, and although he will not have the assist averages that Calderon has, Lillard can be an effective passer when he drives to the basket and kicks it out to open shooters.
Many Raptors fans are big supporters of Jose Calderon. However, it takes defense to win a championship, and the Raptors will need to contain other teams' point guards if they ever want to win a title.
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