Calderon has been the Raptors shining star in the somewhat disappointing season that they’ve had. T.J. Ford went down and Calderon stepped up to the minutes, stats, and great play that the Raps needed from him. But today Calderon made the ultimate sacrifice (for a player). He suggested to Coach Sam Mitchell that TJ should lead the starting line-up and Jose should control the rotation. Mitchell agreed and this will be implemented tonight against the Pistons. How selfless is this guy? He rarely shoots (when he does, he hits them), he’s averaging 8.4 assists/game this season, and he gave up the starting role that he’s earned.
This is obviously not because of bad play or that Mitchell is blaming Calderon for not leading the team. This is simply because the Raps need both to be successful on the court in order to win games. Ford is much more successful when he is distributing the ball, which he is forced to do with the starting line-up instead of tossing up so many shots. Calderon is good with anyone. We’ve seen him play with the starters and be successful. When the second rotation comes in, we’ve seen him have success with them also.
One person we will see struggle as a result of this is Jason Kapono. Kapono’s play of late has been great. He thrives off Ford because of Ford’s ability to maneuver his way through defenders and dish the ball out to Kapono. We have not seen Calderon have much success doing this with Kapono.
Another move that was made for tonight’s game is Nesterovic making the starting line-up again and Bargnani going to the bench. This is simply because Nesterovic is playing amazing of late. I haven’t seen him play this well in ages. Bargnani has been hot in the first quarter but we haven’t seen him do much of anything after that. It’s great if you get 15 points, but you should get some in the remaining quarters. All this talk about Bargnani leaving is gibberish. This guy has sublime talent. He will take time to develop and people need to understand that. He is also playing on one of the deepest rosters in the league. If he doesn’t step up and perform, someone else will. This will help him for the better eventually but right now it will take him time. I will wait to see Il Mago earn his name again. People need to be more patient. Everyone knew this guy wouldn’t be a Dirk right from the start. Even Dirk took about 4 or 5 seasons to be the Dirk he is now. I don’t think Bargnani will take that long, but we still must be patient with him. In the mean time, be thankful for the team player we have in Calderon.
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