Raptors at NBA All-Star Weekend: The "Sort-Of-Case for Jose Calderon"

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

There will be no Toronto Raptors participating in this year's NBA All-Star game but Adam Francis argues that if Toronto was to send a participant, Jose Calderon would be the choice.

As we've been doing the past while, today marks another "SB Nation theme day" across our collection of basketball blogs.

One problem.

Today's theme is NBA All-Stars and well...yeah, our blog represents the Toronto Raptors.

Could an argument be made for Toronto to send someone? Well, I suppose so, but that's sort of like arguing that Britney Spears revolutionized pop music. You can make the case, but ultimately there's not a lot of evidence to suggest the latter is indeed correct.

Kyle Lowry started at an All-Star pace, but that was extremely short lived, DeMar DeRozan was hardly a lock before his recent January swoon, and while Ed and Amir have been tearing it up in their own way, suggesting they take the spot of a Joakim Noah or Brook Lopez.

In fact, the closest thing the Raptors have to an All-Star candidate might actually be the ever-maligned Jose Calderon. His defence has been pretty much on par with the rest of his career marks (Defensive rating of 112 this year, same as career average), but to date he's putting up some of the best numbers offensively in years.

His PER of 19.8 is second career-wise to only his breakthrough 2007-08 season (20.5), his True Shooting Percentage mark of .591 is the highest its been since his scintillating 2008-09 season (yes, the season he shot 98 per cent from the free-throw line) and speaking of free throws, he's hitting over 90 per cent currently, his best mark again since...yep, 2008-09.

And we can continue with other highs too including 9.7 assists per 36 minutes, a pretty solid mark considering he's only playing on average, 28.1 minutes a night. And that assist mark has resulted in a career-high assist percentage of 45.4%. To put that in perspective, it means that currently, Jose Calderon is assisting on nearly half of his teammate's field goals while he is on the court, a stat that put him just behind Greivis Vaszquez (45.9) and in the company of Chris Paul (46.1%) and Rajon Rondo (49.9%.)

Not too shabby.

Especially when you consider Calderon's miniscule usage rate of 18.2.

That's still his highest mark in a few years, but pales in comparison to those of Vasquez (23.6), Paul (22.0) and Rondo (21.3).

In fact, if we take things one step further and compare Calderon to a player many feel will be a shoe-in for the big event, Jrue Holiday, it's hard to see THAT much of a difference:

Name

Mins

EFG%

TS%

AST%

TOV%

USG%

Ortg

Drtg

PER

Calderon

28.1

.564

.591

45.4

15.1

18.2

123

112

19.8

Holiday

38.1

.488

.522

41.5

18.0

26.9

103

108

18.8

And in actuality, Calderon's offensive metrics dwarf those of Holiday, especially when you take minutes-per-game and usage into account.

However Holiday makes up for this in other areas.

Holiday is a superior rebounder, especially on the offensive end, is a very good individual defender, and is responsible for carrying his club for lengths of time, especially down the stretch of close games (something Raptors' fans witnessed first-hand recently.) This probably explains why even though Philadelphia sports a net -2.2 points mark with him on the court, without him, they're much, much worse (-8.9.)

Calderon's marks per 82games.com are much more moderate, likely because of the impact Kyle Lowry has, particularly on the defensive end, when Jose exits. I mean, Holiday's back-up is...ah...wait...um...Royal Ivey?

Really the point here isn't so much as to make a case for Jose being an All-Star, I rightfully think that Kyrie Irving and the aforementioned Holiday should be the reserve guard choices, but to give a little praise to a player that again this season, most of us, myself included, left for dead in Kyle Lowry's wake.

If Jose can sustain this level of play and Kyle Lowry can regain his early-season groove, their combination alone might be enough to keep Toronto within spitting distance of the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot.

The Raps are five games back now and with a record of 15 lowly wins to 26 losses, it's hard to say much more than that in support of any of the club's players in terms of potential All-Stars. There are no Kyrie Irving's to be found north of the border at present, but the hope is indeed that down the line, youngsters like Ed Davis, Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross challenge for a spot on the club.

Even Ross, despite playing a more significant role of late, will likely be left off the All-Star weekend's All-Rookie Team. He's currently stuck behind names like Lillard, Beal, Kidd-Gilchrist, and a host of others so like his teammates, will probably we watching the events on TV.

Well...

...unless he changes his mind about #LetRossDunk of course...

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