| Chris Bosh (above) will find himself on the receiving end of many more passes from Jose Calderón now that the Spaniard is a full-time starter.|
|Since turnovers became an official statistic in '77-78, only the Hornets' Muggsy Bogues (two times) had a better assists-to-turnover ratio than José Calderón's 5.38 to 1 last season (minimum 300 assists).|
|Record: 41-41 (6th in East) |
Points scored: 100.2 (13th in NBA)
Points allowed: 97.3 (10th)
The club filled a big hole up front thanks to this point guard's excelente development
If Jermaine O'Neal wants someone to thank for his deliverance from Indiana, he should start with José Calderón. Why? Because the 27-year-old Calderón's steady development at point guard allowed the Raptors to package T.J. Ford in a six-player trade with the Pacers. Now the 6-foot-11 O'Neal teams with Dream Team power forward Chris Bosh to give Toronto one of the best one-two inside punches in the league. "If José is not here, no way that deal gets done," says general manager Bryan Colangelo. "Me, the coaches, the players -- we all believe he is ready to lead this team."
The confidence in Calderón stems from his brilliant playmaking last season. After Ford went down with a neck injury in December, Calderón averaged 13.2 points, 8.8 assists and just 1.9 turnovers in 48 games as a starter. He also proved to be a good teammate: Despite turning in an All-Star-caliber first half, Calderón returned to his reserve role without complaint shortly after Ford rejoined the club in February. "It was difficult," says Calderón, "but it was what was best for the team. And now that I'm a starter, it was all worth it."
Calderón appeared in all 82 games last season, but a nagging groin injury limited his play with Spain in the Olympics. He says that he's healthy, and he'll need to stay that way: His backups are journeyman Will Solomon and rookie Roko Ukic, and the team won't exceed the luxury-tax threshold to bring in a veteran. "There is pressure on me, but I welcome it," Calderón says. "I want us to go deep into the playoffs, and I know I will have to play well for us to do that." -- Chris Mannix