Jose Calderon Is a Perfect Point Guard for Dirk Nowitzki and Dallas Mavericks

John FrielAnalyst IAugust 5, 2013

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 22: Jose Calderon #8 of the Detroit Pistons looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on March 22, 2013 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.   (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Were the Dallas Mavericks a tad overzealous in giving Jose Calderon a four-year deal worth $29 million?

Without seeing any of their games yet, probably. Calderon turns 32 before the start of the 2013-14. He will be 36 years oldand could still possibly be playing significant minutesby the time his deal runs out. 

That means Calderon playing Calderon-style defense against the likes of Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker and Stephen Curry. That's going to be occurring over the next four seasons, and the Mavericks are going to have to run through the likes of Oklahoma City and San Antonio if they ever wish to make another significant title run.

A title run at the moment seems unlikely, even with the team getting back a fully-recovered Dirk Nowitzki and signing on newcomers in Samuel Dalembert, DeJuan Blair, Monta Ellis and Wayne Ellington.

Competition out West is a fierce, ferocious, run-and-gun monster, and the Mavericks will need a great deal of production from their summer signings to make a legitimate push towards a repeat of 2011. 

Unfortunately for Dallas, Tyson Chandler ain't walking through that door.

But it's not all bad for the Mavericks, especially when speaking of Calderon. Because what he lacks (greatly) in defense, he makes up for as one of the league's top playmakers, ball-handlers and spot-up shooters. He has averaged over seven assists per game for his career and has fallen short of that mark in only one season since 2007. 

That lone time came when Calderon split time as a starter. He still managed to average 9.4 per 36 minutes. 

Calderon joins the Mavericks after stints with the Toronto Raptorsthe team he was drafted by in 2005and the Detroit Pistons. Although his number of assists per game dropped to 6.6 in his 28 games with the Pistons, Calderon managed to shoot 53 percent from the field and a striking 52 percent from beyond the arc.

In his time with the Raptors last season, Calderon ranked third in the league in spot-ups, garnering 1.38 points per possession and shooting 46 percenta career-highfrom beyond the arc, per Synergy. 

Calderon and the Mavericks seem to be a match already made by the basketball gods. He will be joining a team that is heavily reliant on not only spot-up opportunities, which Dallas ranked ninth in last year, but also 12th in PPP for the pick-and-roll ball-handler and fourth in PPP for the pick-and-roll screener. 

Per Synergy, the Mavs relied on spot-ups for 20 percent of their offense and the pick-and-roll ball-handler for 15 percent of their offense. 

Those numbers aren't too bad for a team that had Mike James playing significant minutes at the point. It's going to be a huge shock to certain players on this Mavs team when they come to realize that there are other alternatives to having a 37-year-old shooting 37 percent. 

Dallas may be in for it when they match up Calderon against the point gods the West has to offer (but that's why they got defensive stalwart Dalembert, right?). But the offense will find improvement, even after finishing seventh in PPP last year, per Synergy. 

The Mavericks were also sixth in assist ratio. It's almost unbelievable to think they could improve with the team they were running with last year, but they can when adding on one of the league's top point guards when it comes to not turning the ball over.

Averaging nearly 30 minutes of playing time per game, Calderon is averaging fewer than two turnovers per game for his career. He has never averaged more than 2.2, and even that came when he set a career high with 8.9 dimes per contest. 

It doesn't look like a new team will throw him off, either. With the Pistons, Calderon turned the ball over an average of 1.8 times. 

Suddenly, this Calderon deal isn't looking too bad. Well, at least on one end of the floor. 

What matters most, however, is how Calderon is going to coexist with the focal point of the Mavericks offense, Nowitzki. Obviously, no good is going to come out of this deal if Calderon and Nowitzki aren't a great match. 

While with Toronto last season, Calderon ranked 47th in PPP as the P&R ball-handler. Nowitzki, meanwhile, relied on the pick-and-roll, as the roller, for 15 percent of his offense and ranked 76th in the league, shooting 46 percent from the field, per Synergy.

As a spot-up threat? Nowitzki ranked 35th in the league, shooting 47 percent overall and 41 percent from beyond the arc.

That means the Mavericks will possess two of the league's top spot-up threats, as well as two players who can run the pick-and-roll with the best of them. This team, that ranked 11th in offensive efficiency last season (per Hollinger), may just end up being able to improve and keep up with the high-octane likes of Houston and Golden State.

You can only pray that Ellis keeps away from shooting deep mid-range jumpers long enough to allow Calderon to do his thing. 

But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves now. After all, there's no better way of determining how well a roster plays together than actually seeing that roster play together.

The difference between "on paper" and "on court" has become painfully obvious over the past few years, as numerous teams attempt to hoard superstars. 

Superstars, however, don't make superteams. 

Speaking of the likes of Ellis' and Calderon's other new teammates, he'll be happy to know that Shawn Marion is also a heavy user of the pick-and-roll. Marion relied on it for 14 percent of his offense last season, ranking 103rd in PPP, and shot 47 percent from the field, per Synergy. 

But, wait, it gets better! The Mavericks' future starting center in Dalembert is also a big-time user of the pick-and-roll, using it for 19 percent of his offense last season, ranking 70th in PPP and shooting 51 percent of the field.

That's Dallas' starting small forward, power forward and center all showing heavy reliance on a play that Calderon has excelled at throughout his career.

I've been trying to convince myself the deal Calderon made with the Mavs wasn't horrific and short-sighted, and these numbers have done a solid job at doing so.

Dallas running with the likes of James as its floor general still ranked among the league's most efficient teams last year. That leaves one to wonder how well it will look with Calderonand even more so if he quickly clicks (say that five times fast) with Dirk. 

But there is that pesky thing called defense, and the Mavericks are going to suffer if they seriously envision Calderon, Ellis, Devin Harris or any other guard on the Dallas roster to be defenders of some of the league's top floor generals.

At least it will be pretty on one end of the floor. Also, I cannot reiterate this enough: It's not James.