With a salary cap strapped squad, Phil Jackson had his work cut out for him in his first offseason. Not only were the New York Knicks well over the cap, but the team lacked significant pieces of value that other teams would want.
Addressing the largest problem with the Knicks last season, Jackson worked his magic and acquired Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Wayne Ellington, Shane Larkin, and two second round picks (Cleanthony Early and Thanasis Antetokounmpo). Out of all those acquired, many will contribute this year, but few will have as large of an impact at Calderon.
Watching the Knicks last year was very difficult. It seemed there was a significant lack of direction and no true floor general to help guide the team through struggles. Raymond Felton was an absolute nightmare both defensively and offensively creating a glaring weakness for the team. Night in and night out, the Knicks were automatically going to have a disadvantage in the backcourt. This is why Calderon is so important to the success of the team this upcoming season. The Spanish point guard is an upgrade in all aspects of the game, and he will also be Derek Fisher’s first point guard in the New York Knicks’ version of the triangle offense.
Coming into the season, Knicks’ fans know what they are going to get out of Carmelo Anthony, and that’s pretty much it. The lack of consistency from the perimeter players this past season was mostly their fault, but also, to a certain degree, it was Felton’s. What Calderon brings to the table is consistency and leadership. He makes the players around him better. Monta Ellis is a phenomenal player, but his game is also very similar to JR Smith.
Having Calderon play alongside Ellis allowed the Mavericks to get the most out of Ellis and create a more consistent all around player. If Calderon can help JR get the ball in positions to score, rather than him dribbling aimlessly to try to create his own shot at the end of the shot clock, he will become a more efficient player.
Same thing goes with Iman Shumpert. Calderon is a strong point guard with good vision and lights out shooting from the perimeter. These attributes will keep the defense honest and force them to cover Calderon even without the ball. This in turn leads for wide open jumpers for Shumpeet, or even more open space to drive to the basket. Calderon’s ability to drive and kick is something that separates him from Felton as he can actually be a threat to score and draw one or more extra defenders.
Defensively, Calderon is not the best on ball defender, but he more than adequate, which is something the Knicks couldn’t say about their point guards last year. Just the ability to stay in front of his man and not have it be highway to the hoop will allow Shumpert to focus more on locking up his man rather than trying to guard everyone on the perimeter. The Knicks’ defense in general should become a lot more efficient as there won’t be nearly as many instances where the opposing point guard forces the Knicks defense to collapse and rotate faster than physically possible.
In the locker room, it is well known that Jose Calderon is well respected and has the type of leadership qualities that you want out of your floor general. In a time of a complete organizational shift in thinking and personnel, it is essential to have stability within the lineup. Calderon is a perfect fit for the triangle offense and Derek Fisher will lean on him heavily in his first year.
Just think of all the times you shook your head or yelled at the T.V. because Raymond Felton cost the Knicks a defensive possession, a basket, or even a game. Insert a new point guard and the Knicks season has a chance to be very different. People tend to forget how critical the point guard position is to a team. There is no doubt the Knicks have more talent now on roster than they did when they won 54 games a year ago. Will they reach that kind of potential? It all rests in the hands of the newly acquired Spanish point guard, Jose Calderon.