The New York Knicks made a huge improvement to the team this summer when they received Jose Calderon from the Dallas Mavericks. The Spanish point guard is a serious upgrade for the Knicks at the point guard position after such a miserable season from Raymond Felton. What Calderon brings to the table is superior ball handling, great court vision, and a lethal three-point shooting stroke.
Not only will Calderon help the Knicks, but the triangle offense will actually help Calderon excel and highlight his greatest strengths. This past season, Jose Calderon was virtually the third or fourth option offensively with the Dallas Mavericks. The trio of Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, and Vince Carter took the majority of the shots, while Calderon hit the open jump shot almost on command. This season, the veteran will be seen as one of the Knicks’ largest offensive contributors due to his style of play fitting perfectly into the new offense.
By comparing Calderon to the past triangle point guards, we are able to see that his three-point shooting percentage will really work to the Knicks’ advantage. Looking at Jackson’s Bulls era, John Paxson and Steve Kerr were the two point guards to compare Calderon with. While Paxson didn’t take a lot of three-point attempts, he was a very good shooter, shooting 50% from the field for his career. Steve Kerr on the other hand was a lethal shooter, almost exclusively shooting three pointers when he was in the game. Seeing that Calderon shot 46% and 45% the last two years from downtown, it is expected that he will get a lot of plays run for him to keep defenses from doubling down low.
A more recent triangle point guard to compare Calderon to is none other than New York Knicks head coach Derek Fisher. While Fisher was not the scorer that Calderon is, the ex-Laker point guard played alongside a ball dominant player and fit in extremely well. In the Lakers’ ’00-’02 three peat, Fisher shot the majority of his shots from three-point range. In those three years the point guard took 34%, 52%, and 27% of his shots from downtown, respectively. To even further break it down, 16% came from the corner in 2000, 29% in 2001, and then 44% in 2002.
The corner is one of the main spots in the triangle offense, and this is one of the positions where you will see a jump in Calderon’s numbers. Last season, the Spanish point guard shot an astounding 51% from the corner but only took 17% of his attempts from there. Inserting Calderon into the triangle offense should increase his points per game just based off his ability to hit the corner three.
The point guard is not typically a ball dominant player in the triangle causing all of Jackson’s former point guards to have lower assist numbers. Part of this is due to the fact that the offense needs ball movement from everyone in order to be successful. This means that there should be multiple players with more than 3 or 4 assists per game, diluting the point guards assists ratio. Also, with a ball dominant player like Carmelo Anthony, crunch time situations may turn into holding the ball and going one on one like the Lakers did with Kobe Bryant.
The assist numbers for Calderon may improve however if the Knicks can establish a low post scorer. Amar’e Stoudemire certainly has the ability to really succeed in the new offense with his ability to hit jump shots paired with a wide variety of post moves. Melo also can score in the post, but will most likely see more time on the perimeter this year after his recent weight loss. If STAT can demand a double in the post, Calderon will have more open jump shots. If Calderon is making them, eventually this will prevent his man from doubling in the post, allowing a better opportunity to score for Stoudemire.
The same holds true on the opposite side of the triangle if the ball is swung over there. Calderon will then have the opportunity to play a two-man game of pick and roll with whoever is up front with Stoudemire, while still having the option to use the screen to kick opposite to Melo or Hardaway Jr./Smith for an open jumper.
Jose Calderon comes to New York with big expectations. Any production he has this season will be an upgrade over Felton last year. An offense more fitting to Calderon’s strengths should improve both his scoring numbers and possibly his assists as well. Ball movement is key, and as long as he is doing his job, he will be not only benefit the team, but also his own statistics.
2013-2014 Statistics: 11.4 ppg, 4.7 apg, 2.4 rpg, 9.2 FGA per game
2014-2015 Projection: 15.0 ppg, 6.0 apg, 2.5 rpg, 12 FGA per game