Tuesday, July 17, 2007

T.J. vs Jose

Twice a week in the Toronto Star, Doug Smith in the sports section posts a questions and answer article in regards to the Toronto Raptors. It seems that he gets lot of emails about the point guard position for Toronto and what the Raps should do with the two point guards we have that could start for a majority of teams in the NBA. Of course Colangelo has mentioned how he has been recieving alot of calls about the availablity of Jose Calderon and with the way Jose has improved this past year combined with his play in the playoffs in game 5 and 6, I am sure the offers for Jose have to look decent for Colangelo. Problem is the fact that we would then be potentially losing the best point guard on the team. T.J. Ford was brought in this past season via a trade with Milwaukee to be the number one guy. Jose had moments his rookie year, but playing on such a crappy team with the likes of Mike James and Jalen Rose did not do him or his confidence any favors. So T.J. came in from Milwaukee to lead the team and was set to start with Jose coming off the bench.

I remember in the first month when things were not looking good, I felt alot of frustration directed towards T.J. The errors and turnovers and missed lay-ups that I saw in alot of the games in November was building my frustration level back to my "relocate the team to Buffalo" days. Along with my "fire Mitchell" talk was the "replace Ford with Jose" talk that lasted till pretty much that western road trip when Bosh was on shelf. Ford for two games against the Clips and against Portland took charge of the team and lead them to victory in both games. At that point it did look like the first month and a half was truly just an ajustment period and T.J Ford, while still needing to improve in some areas, would work out for us. Then comes January when T.J. goes down with an ankle injury and Jose Calderon got the start. Like I mentioned I saw flashs of the Jose we all know and love come threw in his rookie year, but with the start we started to see it every moment he was on the court. The one thing he was doing that T.J. was struggling with was finshing off at the rim. Jose punished the other teams with the pick and roll with Bosh. If teams stuck on Bosh, Ford was taking it straight to the rim and finishing it as he falls to the groung over and over and over again. Jose became a regular fixture on the nightly recaps on the sports stations here in Toronto. It got to the point of questioning what would happen when T.J. came back and the fact that some fans wanted a change.

And what happened was nothing, everything went back to the set plan at the beginning of the season. Actually that is not completely true. While T.J. got the starting job back and still played more minutes, a new method was being used. Ford starts and plays most of the first quarter with Jose playing most of the second. Ford starts and plays most of the third while Jose comes in and finshs the 3rd and starts the 4th. At that point it becomes a choice between the two for who finishs and that was the big difference. While the starter would normally close out the game, now it was more about match-ups and who was playing better that particular game. Some times it was Ford going for the last few while others it was Jose. And sometimes it ended up being both on the court at the same time which was very suprising to see. This all worked out well for last year, but that might have been luck. Would it work again for 82 games plus playoffs this season?

And who do we pick? I know the popular opinion right now is Jose, although Ford is the one making the money at this point as well as it is Joses last year in his contract. Can we afford Jose next year and pay that much into two point guards? Will ether of them be fine to take a back up role after next season? It would be hard to lose Jose after next year as I see Jose being the Steve Nash type of player I am sure Colangelo wanted at the start of last season. And Colangelo knows how valuable a player Jose is becoming. Does he just let him go? And let's not get on T.J. too much here. He was the starter of team that dominated in the second half of the season. And while he struggled with Jason Kidd in round one, his speed would have been benefical if the Raps got the bigger Cavs in round two. Bottom line is this, while Jose was just is good at T.J. at points in the season, to dismiss the work that Ford put towards the team is a huge mistake.

Solution? Keep them both. And why not? The options availble is what would be the greatest benefit to the team. Playing again Kidd? Put Jose on him. Playing again Chris Paul? Put Ford on him. Whos hot? Let them keep going. Point guard struggling? Well now you got the chance to put someone on that is just as talented to try to heat it up. Very few, if any, teams in the league have that power and abilty to make that type of choices. So screw it. Find a way they will both be happy with a share role, and give Jose the money needed.

Now I don't want to cop out though here, in a question of Ford vs. Jose I am going with Jose. I see the Steve Nash style in him and he can finsh at the rim. In 5 -6 years, how good is jose going to be? The upside is higher with Jose in my opinion.

No comments: