Calderon makes point

New Toronto Raptor Jose Calderon has raised some eyebrows on his club during the preseason....

New Toronto Raptor Jose Calderon has raised some eyebrows on his club during the preseason. (Toronto Sun/Mark O'Neill)

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

His Raptors teammates may not understand every word he says, but Jose Calderon is making his point loud and clear.

The Spanish-speaking rookie point guard, whose English is improving slowly but surely, has raised eyebrows in the first half of the Raptors' pre-season schedule. A classic, pass-first floor general, the enthusiastic Calderon had his best game in a Raptors uniform Wednesday night when he had 15 points (on five-of-eight shooting) and six assists in 27 minutes in a 107-105 overtime win over the New Jersey Nets.

"Some players that speak English can't understand half the things he's understanding," fellow point guard Alvin Williams said. "He's doing well. You can tell he has played basketball for a while."

NOT INTIMIDATED

With six years of pro basketball experience in Spain and appearances in the 2004 Olympics and 2002 world championship, Calderon doesn't appear to be intimidated making the jump to the NBA.

One of the knocks on Calderon's game was his inconsistent jump shot, but he showed decent shooting touch Wednesday and when he can do that, it makes him all that much tougher to defend.

While veteran Mike James is the clear front-runner for the starting point guard job, Raptors coach Sam Mitchell hasn't confirmed his starter as Calderon continues to make a push for more minutes. No matter which direction Mitchell goes, it appears Calderon has a chance to diminish point guard concerns for the Raptors.

"We talked about (how) I need time to know my friends and know the new rules and the new game," Calderon, 24, whose wife has joined him in Toronto, said. "Now with the games, I'm more comfortable on the court."

He also is becoming more comfortable communicating in English.

EARS ARE BETTER

At the beginning of training camp, Calderon was apologizing to reporters for not having command of the language.

"My ears are better," he said.

"I can hear. On the court, it's (fine) because I can talk with no problem. It's difficult to talk about other things in the locker room."

Calderon is such a change from shot-happy ex-Raptor point guard Rafer Alston that he sometimes catches his teammates off guard. On one possession Wednesday, following a steal, Calderon passed up on a pretty good shot attempt to try to feed the ball to Chris Bosh, only to commit a turnover.

"It's always fun because when a guy passes like that, everybody else gets more unselfish, too," Bosh said. "When you see that guy open, you almost break your neck trying to get the ball to him."


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