When trading a player, a team must be cognizant of everything they are giving away.
By everything, we're not only talking about what they bring to the court such as shooting ability or defense, but we're also talking about the player's intangibles. Things such as if they are a mentor to younger players or do they bring bad energy to every team meeting.
Those smaller—yet equally as important—intangibles can be the difference between being a playoff team and watching them from the comfort of your own home.
If your team is lucky enough to get that far, then it could be the difference between an NBA title and finishing second place.
The Raptors aren't in the best position to reach the playoffs sitting with a 16-29 record, but there is still a chance.
However small it is.
Deciding on trading Calderon or Lowry could be the deciding factor in making it or not.
With that being said, let's take a look at which option would be the better person to trade.
Former ESPN employee John Hollinger wrote this about Calderon in his scouting report on the Raptors point guard:
Quick, who led the NBA in pure point rating last season? No, it wasn't Steve Nash or Rajon Rondo or any of the other stars you'd expect.
It was this guy, who continues to run offenses with uncanny precision. Calderon ranked third in the NBA in assist ratio and handed out 10.4 per 40 minutes while posting one of the lowest turnover ratios at his position, a remarkable achievement. Additionally, he's an efficient shooter who ranked eighth at his position in 2-point shooting percentage and hardly ever misses a free throw.
The 6'3" point guard has great size and length, but lacks any sort of elite quickness. The reasons described above contribute toward his appeal. It is very difficult to fully appreciate everything that a point guard does, but it's easy to see that 10.4 assists per 40 minutes of playing time is a good thing.
As far as shooting, he's a player that will finish plays, not necessarily create them. That means that he's going to finish off an open three-point look or shot off of a screen, as opposed to him creating either of those shots with his dribble.
Lowry is an entirely different player.
Being a 6'0" undersized point guard has only made Lowry turn into an aggressive offensive player. His talents on this end of the floor are also opposite of Calderon's. Lowry is the kind of player that can run isolation sets for himself and create his own shot. He gets a little too dependent on three-pointers, but he makes up for it with above-average free-throw shooting at 83 percent.
Calderon's distinct offensive advantage over Lowry comes with passing, as Calderon averages 7.4 assists per game to Lowry's 5.8. For this reason alone, the offensive advantage has to go to Calderon.
We'll start with this one in a blunt fashion.
This category isn't even close.
Lowry is one of the best one-on-one defenders at the guard position. His quickness allows him to beat the opposition to their spot if they're a smaller athletic guard, and his strength lets him muscle up most of the taller guards.
His biggest advantage comes from how well he rebounds the basketball. Averaging 4.5 rebounds in only 27.5 minutes per game is as good as it gets. To put those numbers up at his height, though, is spectacular.
To be honest, Calderon doesn't bring much on the defensive side of the court.
It almost all comes down to quickness and other players' bodies. Most of the league's guards are shorter and scary fast, meaning the 31-year old can't keep up with them. You would also think that having three inches on Lowry might mean that he could be a better rebounder, but his 2.4 rebounds per game quickly dispel that notion.
It's not a surprise on who's going to win this category.
There is only one main intangible that both of these players have had issues with: injuries.
As a regular civilian, getting injured is one of the most disappointing and frustrating things. We're worried about work and our home, so it doesn't feel like we really have time for getting hurt.
It must really suck for a professional athlete to get injured.
Try telling that to Calderon and Lowry.
Calderon has been fortunate enough to not miss more than 14 games in a season, but he's also one of the most tic-tac injury prone players. It's as if there is always something wrong with him. Remember, nothing ever too serious, but all little nagging injuries.
Lowry, on the other hand, has found a way to miss long stretches of time over the course of his career.
Both players haven't found the right plan to stay healthy, so both get the same nod.
What's the deciding factor in this category then? Their contracts.
Calderon has a $10 million contract for this season, whereas Lowry's is only worth $5 million. Sometimes it all comes down to the money.
This could be a great example of one of those times.
If the Raptors are able to find a suitor that is willing to take on a huge Calderon contract, then he would be the best player to trade. An advantage to his outstanding assist-to-turnover ratio is that the Raptors would potentially get more value for Calderon.
It's not that Lowry isn't a good player, but the "traditional" point guard role is always in high demand.
The other positive to keeping Lowry is that the Raptors would be keeping a more dynamic offensive threat, as well as a better all-around rebounder. Calderon impacts the team in a positive way, but maybe Lowry could do even better if given more minutes?
We might have do find out the answer to that question sooner rather than later.
It'll be interesting to see what steps Toronto takes toward moving either player as the season moves on.
All statistics in this article are accurate as of games played through Jan 29.