Last season, there was something of a revolving door of mediocre play at the point guard position for the Dallas Mavericks. Naturally, during the draft and then again during free agency, point guard was a huge point of emphasis.
As a result, the Mavericks now have an abundance of guards who can play point guard. Unfortunately, only two of those players have been healthy at any point during the preseason, not counting the players who are surely D-League-bound.
Rookie Gal Mekel has been starting, as he is the only natural point guard healthy on the roster. He’s shown signs of progress throughout the preseason, but he hasn’t exactly set the world on fire with his play. Monta Ellis, on the other hand, isn’t a natural shooting guard but has been outstanding distributing the ball.
Still, it would benefit the team the most to have a proven point guard handling the ball, letting Ellis focus on what he was brought here to do which is score.
Luckily, Jose Calderon is set to make his Mavericks debut in their preseason game on Saturday against the Charlotte Bobcats. Calderon has been a consistent pass-first point guard, averaging 7.2 assists per game in his career and over eight assists per game in four of his eight seasons in the NBA. More importantly, he’s only averaged more than two turnovers per game for a season twice in his career.
In fact, Calderon has finished the season in the top three in assist-to-turnover ratio every year since 2007-08 and finished first in 07-2008, 2008-09, and 2011-12. This is all the more impressive considering he’s played almost his entire career for the Toronto Raptors. To say he’s never played with players of Dirk Nowitzki or Ellis’ caliber would be a vast understatement.
Calderon’s influence will be felt the most during the fourth quarter, which is when the Mavericks seemed to have the most problems with their guards last season. While Calderon likely won’t play during the fourth quarter during the preseason, he’ll still be able to gain valuable chemistry with Dirk and Ellis.
Due to the talent of his new teammates, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that Calderon could even improve on his career numbers this season. But if he can just manage to come close to them and Ellis can continue to be the revelation that he’s been thus far, the Mavericks could be a lot better than most were predicting.