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NBA New York Knicks

Jose Calderon Will Be One of the New York Knicks’ Most Important Players Next Season

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Jose Calderon has played nine seasons in the NBA and in the past two he has played for three teams after staying with the Toronto Raptors for more than seven seasons. Now, entering his tenth season in the league, Calderon will be playing his first with the New York Knicks. They are very happy to have him, and he should be happy to be there.

It is obvious, assuming no health concerns, that Calderon will be a significant upgrade from the play of last year’s starting point guard for the Knicks, Raymond Felton. Calderon came to the Knicks from the Dallas Mavericks with Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington, Samuel Dalembert and a pair of draft picks for Felton and Tyson Chandler. The move was made, from the Knicks’ perspective, mostly to get rid of the estranged Felton, whose play on the court and actions off of it were something new president Phil Jackson didn’t want in Madison Square Garden. So Calderon will be an improvement not only on the court but as far as building team chemistry.

Calderon’s stats compared to Felton’s should excite Knicks fans. Calderon averaged 11.4 points per game on 45.6 percent shooting last season compared to Felton’s 9.7 on 39.5 percent shooting. His assist/turnover ratio of 3.6 is greater than Felton’s 2.8 and his marksmanship from three-point range is remarkable. Calderon’s 44.9 shooting percentage from distance over 81 games played last season ranked fifth in the entire NBA. That is far better than Felton’s 31.8 percent and the Knicks’37.2 percent (which did rank seventh in the NBA). The Knicks’ offense will be a lot more efficient with Calderon running the point next season, helping improve their percentage from long range and taking care of the ball.

With Calderon running the show, new head coach Derek Fisher has a veteran who can do a plethora of things for him on the court and will help the Knicks in their effort to master the triangle offense. Having a guy like Calderon will make things easier for shooters like Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. These guys will have space to operate all over the floor, because there will have to be at least one set of eyes on Calderon at a time. Anthony can shoot or drive, Smith will have more isolation situations that he excels in and Hardaway can continue to hone his developing skills. Calderon will help with ball movement and spacing at right times, hopefully making the Knicks’ assists per game increase (they ranked 28th in the NBA last season).

Not only is Calderon there to help out on the court but also off of it as well. Adding him to the roster was made to help boost chemistry and build for the future. A guy like Andrea Bargnani, who played six years with Calderon in Toronto, could be energized by playing with the Spaniard again and help team chemistry on and off the court. Also, keeping Calderon with second-year guard Shane Larkin will be important, as he and Fisher will be able to mentor him and help him improve his game. Lastly, Calderon can help recruit certain players in free agency during the summer of 2015 when the Knicks have a nice chunk of cap space. Another guy like fellow Spaniard Marc Gasol could be easily convinced by Calderon to join, especially after seeing the success his brother, Pau, had when working with Jackson.

Calderon is an upgrade for the Knicks as a floor general and a shooter. His veteran experience and offensive talent will be a huge improvement for a team that struggled to pass and shoot effectively. His role expands far beyond the court where he will also help improve team chemistry, and if he buys in to the system, he will look to help bring some of his talented friends to the Big Apple. Do not underestimate the role that Calderon will play next season with this team.