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5 Reasons Jose Calderon Has Been a Match Made in Heaven for Cavs
- Updated: April 9, 2018
When veteran point guard Jose Calderon was signed as a free agent by the Cleveland Cavaliers last July, he was seen as potential depth for Kyrie Irving, who soon after delivered his bombshell trade request. Even after a subsequent deal with the Boston Celtics was made that returned damaged goods in Isaiah Thomas, Calderon’s status on the team still wasn’t considered important.
Part of that reason was the fact that the 36-year-old Calderon’s production had dipped in recent years, enough that the Cavaliers were his seventh different team in the past five years. That led him to sign a veteran’s minimum contract of $2.3 million, with the prospect of not even making it out of training camp a possibility.
Fast forward to the final week of the regular season and Calderon’s play has shown itself to be invaluable in helping the Cavaliers during one of their most tumultuous seasons ever. Some of the reasons that Calderon is worthy of applause for his effort this year include:
Lack of Ego
Being on a roster with as much high-priced talent as the Cavaliers didn’t figure to offer Calderon much playing time. That was certainly the case during the first 15 contests, when the veteran saw just under 37 minutes combined in six games. However, he was soon inserted into the starting lineup and the team thrived.
Yet, when Thomas returned, Calderon was once again relegated to sparse playing time. Over the past three months, the veteran has seen his playing time often shift dramatically. Despite such uncertain usage, Calderon has embraced his role and has remained ready when his number is called.
When nightly highlights are shown on ESPN or online, it’s rare to get a glimpse of Calderon’s performance. He doesn’t provide flashy dunks and rarely makes plays that cause fans to jump out of their seats. What he does do, however, is provide the type of play that coaches prize, bringing solid fundamentals to the court each time.
That’s allowed him to work well with LeBron James, with Kevin Love also citing Calderon’s skill when it comes to the pick-and-roll. James was effusive in his praise of the veteran, saying that he exhibits the type of professionalism that every team needs to win, with those fundamentals often seen as a lost art in the current game.
Looking at Calderon’s offensive production might not bring a lot of praise from fans, given that he’s averaging only 4.6 points per game. However, when he has put the ball up this year, the result has been something of a renaissance year in which the Cavaliers are the beneficiaries.
Calderon’s 51.1 percent shooting from the field is reminiscent of his early years in Toronto, which date back a full decade. Even more eye-catching is his ability to connect from long-range, with the veteran having hit 47.3 of his 93 attempts from beyond the arc, a career-high for percentage over the course of an entire season. That wasn’t a weapon the Cavs were necessarily counting on, but they’ll gladly take the results.
Delivering a Winner
In the Cavaliers’ 80 games this season, Calderon hasn’t even taken the court in 25 of those matchups. Among the 55 that he has played in, he’s been put into the starting lineup 32 times, with the bottom line numbers in that latter category most likely shocking casual observers.
In those 32 games, the Cavs have managed to compile a sparkling 23-9 (.719) record, compared to the pedestrian numbers when he either comes off the bench or doesn’t even get into the game. In those instances, Cleveland is just 26-22 (.542), a winning percentage that would place it in the lower portion of Eastern Conference playoff teams over the entire season.
A Playoff Payoff?
One subtle asset that Calderon could bring to the postseason with the Cavaliers is his hunger to get past the first round. While reaching the NBA Finals has almost become routine for Cleveland in the past few years, Calderon’s teams have only reached the playoffs four times and have lost in that opening round each time.
Regardless of how the rest of the season plays out, the Cavaliers were able to buy low with Calderon and could see his stock rise if he continues to deliver the way he has during the regular season. That sort of investment is what general managers dream about during the free-agency period and worthy of an appreciative nod in Calderon’s direction.