Pardeep Toor is (like Dan and I) a failed MLiver. He’s also a displaced Canadian and huge Toronto Raptors fan who now also follows the Pistons due to his settling in Michigan. As someone who is thoroughly familiar with Jose Calderon (Calderon is the second longest-tenured Raptor of all time, trailing only Flint native Morris Peterson), he agreed to give some thoughts on how Calderon helps the Pistons. — P.H.
Andre Drummond may not realize it yet but his basketball career is about to transform for the better. No longer will he feed off the scraps of missed layups and ill-advised long jumpers from the likes of Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, Jeremy Lamb, Brandon Knight, Will Bynum and Rodney Stuckey. Rather than focusing on side-stepping frantic guards in the paint as they crash into the rim void of the instinct to pass, Drummond is about to be the focal point of a calculated and lethal offensive set — the Jose Calderon pick-and-roll.
Calderon’s primary pick-and-roll partners in Toronto this season were Amir Johnson and Ed Davis, who like Drummond, are not threats to fade for a long jumper off of a set at the top of the key. Johnson is shooting just 35 percent in the area outside the paint and inside the 3-point line while Ed Davis is connecting at a 43 percent rate. Davis and Johnson have a single move in the pick-and-roll — dive to the basket, catch and finish.
Calderon’s shooting ability, 52 percent from above the free-throw line and 46 percent from 3-point territory at the top of the arc, forces defenders to fight over the screen and often attracts an aggressive hedge but that only further encourages Calderon to make the pass to the open man.
Calderon is averaging just one more shot attempt than he is assists this season because he meticulously calculates each offensive possession, runs the offense with his head up and is always looking to pass. He’s patient with the pick-and-roll, allowing the bigs time to cut after setting the pick and forcing the defense to react to the play rather than bailing out early or crashing to the rim in search of a foul — all fundamental but sometimes obscure skills in the NBA.
The most impressive Calderon skillset is his ability to utilize the pick-and-roll multiple times in a single possession as he has the rare talent to reset the offense as opposed to forcing a bad shot or an awkward isolation situation for either himself or, worse now, for Stuckey.
Drummond should be an unstoppable force playing alongside Calderon as long as he continues his commitment to diving, and better yet crashing to the rim, on the pick-and-roll. He’s guaranteed to inflate his offensive numbers by being fed the ball on the move at optimal angles, positions and trajectories as Calderon will utilize him in situations where others have previously ignored or underused his mammoth presence. For the first time since the Chauncey Billups-era, the Pistons will get easy baskets off an offensive set and hopefully for the sake of Drummond’s development, it lasts more than half a season.
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