Jose Calderon stretching with new teammate Shawn Marion
The Dallas Mavericks had three different plans for free agency this offseason:
Plan C: It looked something like the current team, which the front office somehow threw together even when all hope seemed lost.
As it turns out, plan C doesn't look too bad. It isn't ideal. What Mavs fan doesn't want Paul running this offense? But CP3 playing in Dallas was less realistic than Mavs fans wanted to think. It was a pipe dream, actually.
So, the Mavs desperately needed a point guard and found a great one: Jose Calderon. He was, by far, the team's best free-agent signing this summer. Next to Dirk Nowitzki, he will be Dallas' most important player this season.
He is also probably the closest thing to Steve Nash that Dirk Nowitzki has ever had.
In ESPNDallas.com's Mavericks Season Outlook, Brett Koremenos of HoopSpeak says that Calderon is the Mavs' most intriguing player.
Toronto never seemed to be a great spot for him, but he finally has a top-notch coach and offensive counterpart in Dallas. His game may look ordinary, but all those simple, smart passes, accurate jumpers and turnover-free possessions make him one of the most underrated offensive players in the game.
Calderon will show his value to the Mavs in two simple ways.
When He Plays
When you take a look at some of Calderon's career numbers, it is easy to see why he should fit so well with the Mavericks' pick-and-roll offense.
Per ESPN, Calderon has a career 48.3 field-goal percentage and a 40 percent average from behind the arc. Last season, splitting time with the Detroit Pistons and the Toronto Raptors, he converted 79 of 184 three point attempts.
That's good for 42.9 percent, a solid percentage. He also led the league last year in true shooting percentage at 61.6 percent.
According to the ESPNDallas.com report, Calderon finished second, first and second in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio in the last three years. Over his eight-year career, the Spaniard has featured a remarkable assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.23.
Calderon is as offensively efficient a point guard as you'll find in the NBA. Playing selflessly and mistake-free will bring out the best in an aging Dirk Nowitzki and this suddenly loaded offense. He will have no trouble finding the open man and is obviously capable of knocking down a shot when left alone.
He will get beat often on the defensive end, but his sharp offensive mind will make up for that shortcoming.
When He Doesn't Play
Calderon's greatest setback, in addition to his sieve-like defense, is durability. According to ESPN, he hasn't played more than 68 games in any of his last five seasons. He has played 70 games or more in a season only twice in his career.
That trend will no doubt continue this season, as he just turned 32. He will miss some time this year, and when he is out, this offense will become a shell of itself.
Take a look at the backup point guards on this team. The Mavs clearly lack proven depth at that position.
Shane Larkin will be rehabbing from a broken ankle in the summer. Even when he returns, though talented, he's still a rookie. Veteran Devin Harris can play the point, but he's better suited as a 2-guard. Israeli-born Gal Mekel has shown flashes of Calderon-like play, but he is still adjusting to the NBA game.
Monta Ellis is technically listed as a point guard, but it's clear that he is also better suited on the wing.
At 35, Nowitzki can no longer control the offense as he used to.
Calderon alone will have to bear the burden of orchestrating this offense. None of the guys behind him on the depth chart have proven they can run an offense effectively for a long period of time. If Calderon misses an extensive amount of time, the Mavs' season could end in disaster.
No pressure, Jose.