The Pistons traded for Jose Calderon for a few reasons. The biggest reason, in my mind, was to be the primary distributor until a valid replacement was found/taught. From everything I've seen, they hope to resign him this year. And I think that's a great idea and I hope it happens. But I think they know, as well as we do, it's not necessarily for him to be our starting PG for when we're contending for a championship. He'll be 32 when the 2013-14 season starts, coming off of a $11+ million contract, and been in the league for 8 years. By the time our young core has developed into a contender, Jose Calderon will likely be 35+ and about to hit free agency again. But the question is what influence does Calderon have on the Pistons future?
Brandon Knight was drafted as the Pistons PGOTF. He was started very early into his rookie season, a shortened season with no real training camp or Summer League, and had to learn on the fly. He was coming to a team who collectively was learning a new coach as well, which didn't make things any easier. But that was the past and not many of us were expecting him to be Chris Paul from the get go. Based on the past though, especially since Calderon joined the team, what does this show about Brandon Knight and how does it affect the Pistons future.
The Pistons go into the off season with a ton of cap money (some of which I hope gets used on Calderon), two draft picks (one likely to be between the 7-10 picks), and Will Bynum coming off of the books. If Calderon decides not to resign, the Pistons go into next season with no real PG on the books. No, I do not consider Rodney Stuckey a PG. He was the best option the Pistons had with any of their assembled rosters ever since Chauncey was traded, but that's on Joe and management for not developing his PG skills and/or trading/signing a better PG. And no, I don't necessarily consider Knight a PG. I think he's more PG than he is SG, but barely. So we would have no real PG on the books.
Here's a quick table on the three PG from this season and how they compare.
|Player||Team||Games||0-3 AST||10+ AST|
|Brandon Knight||Detroit Pistons||59||23||3|
|Jose Calderon||Detroit Pistons||14||5||3|
|Jose Calderon||Toronto Raptors||45||11||13|
|Will Bynum||Detroit Pistons||51||28*||3|
Obviously, we expected Jose to be the better passer, but I think this kind of makes Knight look even worse. In just around 25% of the time it took Knight, Jose has collected as many 10+ assists in a game as Knight has with essentially the same team. Actually, I think it's apt to consider the fact that Knight had Tayshaun on the team at the time as well and he's a consistent shooter. Since that trade, Calderon has Knight he's passing to. Knight compared to Tayshaun, bleh. Even worse, Bynum also has as many 10+ assist games as Knight. And Willy B got all of his 10+ assist games with no game at or over 30 minutes in the game. Knight wasn't below 31 in any of his three games.
Willy B has 28 games where he's had 3 assists or fewer which is 5 more than Knight has in 8 fewer games. But the reason for the asterisk in the table is that in those games Willy B only played more than 20 minutes 6 times. Of Knight's 3 or fewer assist games, in only 6 of those games did Knight play less than 25 minutes.
Based on record, Toronto and Detroit are only 1/2 a game apart. They score 2.5 PPG more than we do but also allow 1.1 PPG more than we do. Our home and road records are almost identical. So essentially, we're the same team. But are we? If you were to expand Jose's play with Detroit to the projected 45 games he played with Toronto, Jose would have 15-16 games of 3 or fewer assists and 9-10 games of 10+ assists. It seems apparent that our team really does lack shooters/finishers. Mind you, he has only played with Detroit for 14 games, has only practiced with the team 3 times, and is in a new system for the first time in 8 seasons. So that may have something to do with it. If that is the biggest reason, that's great. If Jose resigns with us, next year could be amazing. But if it doesn't, if it's that we need better shooters, we could be in a lot of trouble.
Whether or not Jose resigns with us has huge implications in what we do in the draft and free agency. If he does resign, I say we aggressively go after an efficient shooting guard this off-season. If he resigns, I'd prefer that we draft Burke with our first pick, even if it's considered a reach, and then an SG with our second pick. But if Jose doesn't resign, I'm really not sure what the Pistons should do. I would probably take a gamble on Burke still and maybe even start him to begin the season. This isn't my desired approach, but he has been more proven as a PG in college than Knight was in his one year. I'd also possibly draft another PG with the second pick, not sure. I'd still go aggressively after an efficient SG in the off season. Knight and Stuckey, sit your tails on the bench and get comfortable until we can trade you.
Drummond also plays a decent role in this as having him could have increased Jose's assists even more, had the team playing better (with more energy, that's for sure), and improved Jose's outlook on this team's future. I feel of all of the current Pistons, Jose Calderon could potentially have the biggest impact on the Pistons over the next 5 years. If he leaves, the rebuilding process likely lasts longer as I believe a true PG is needed for most contenders. If he stays, I believe he accelerates the rebuilding process substantially. I'm personally hoping the Pistons finish better than Toronto which I would think boost Jose's confidence in staying with the Pistons. What do y'all think? Is Calderon that important to the future of the Pistons, or am I putting too much stock into him?