After spending a season with a revolving door of starting point guards (Darren Collison, Derek Fisher, Mike James) the Dallas Mavericks prioritized to bring in a stable presence at the position. The Mavericks agreed to a 4 year contract for 28 million dollars with the 32-year-old Jose Calderon during the offseason.
The Mavericks knew the defensively challenged Calderon could create (career 7 apg ), shoot (41% 3pt), take care of the ball (4.1:1 assist:turnover ratio), and most importantly would be able to run an offense in a close game, something that the Mavericks struggled with last season while going 9-10 in games within 5 points WITH Dirk Nowitzki’s in the lineup.
While it’s easy to overlook Calderon’s contributions to the team with Monta Ellis exceeding expectations and Nowitzki’s rejuvenated play, his presence and productivity have just been as important.
Rick Carlisle was quoted earlier in the season
Vince and Dirk and Monta, they got to be our three stars on this team…The important thing for us is that Vince, Monta and Dirk don’t always have to score first. Sometimes their mere presence on the floor and activity with the ball creates a problem for the defense and gets other guys shots. So they need to facilitate for us. They really have to do a lot of things for us.
Calderon has not just stabilized the point guard position, but his play has made a strong case that he belongs in the “Big 3″ alongside Nowitzki and Ellis.
The trio of Calderon, Ellis, and Nowitzki has meshed much better than many believed was possible. Though Calderon has seen his assist numbers go down (4.7 apg) due to sharing the playmaking duties with Ellis, he has been the perfect perimeter threat to play off of Ellis and Nowtizki, as he’s been shooting a career high 48.4% from 3-pt range.
Though Calderon has the worst defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions when on the court) on the team of 112 (Mav avg = 107, excluding Ricky Ledo and Brandan Wright) his presence on the offense is greatly under appreciated. Calderon leads the team with an offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions) of 126 (excluding Wright). To compare Nowitzki is behind Calderon with an ORtg of 118. Calderon is only second to Nowitzki (3.2) in Win Shares with a WS of 2.6.
Calderon’s ability to take care of the ball has also been crucial. He is averaging a career low 1.3 turnovers per game. Though the Mavericks have blown large leads, they are 4-3 in games within 5 points. Yes, most of the collapses occurred with Calderon on the court, but his importance was evident against the Atlanta Hawks, when the Mavericks blew a 70-55 lead in the third quarter after Calderon left the game due to an ankle injury.
No disrespect to Vince Carter, but Calderon belongs in the Big-3 with Nowitzki and Ellis.
The previous Maverick Big 3s consisted of a high IQ point guard, a scoring shooting and the great Nowitzki.
From Nash-Finley-Nowtizki to Kidd-Terry-Nowitzki, we now have the opportunity to enjoy Calderon-Ellis-Nowitzki.