First-year point guard Jose Calderon picked up his first NBA double-double in a losing cause on Friday night (15 points and 11 assists) and has played very well, if inconsistently, at times.
Calderon is second among NBA rookies in assists-per-game with 6.4 and has become a regular starter for head coach Sam Mitchell.
Mitchell suggested yesterday that Calderon's progress is a combination of things -- the player's talent and commitment, the contributions of the coaching staff and last, but not least, the guidance of veteran point guard Darrick Martin, whom the Raptors brought in earlier this season.
"That's the only reason I wanted Darrick," Mitchell said. "It had nothing to do with how well he could still play. You have to have guys on your team that are so unselfish to where their biggest thing is to see you do well. And Darrick has been great. He has spends a lot of time with Jose, he talks to Mike (James) about things. He talks to all the guys, Charlie (Villanueva), Chris (Bosh) ... to make them realize where a point guard can get them the ball."
Toronto is Martin's seventh NBA team in a career that began in 1994. His knowledge of the game and his willingness to share that has created talk that he will one day be on an NBA coaching staff.
JOSE STILL GREEN
Mitchell is hopeful that Calderon, who has a lot of upside, will cut down on his rookie mistakes, although the coach acknowledged that rookie mistakes are to be expected.
"This time last year Jose was in Spain playing with the Spanish El Gato's, or whatever team it was," he said with a laugh. "And now he's a starting point guard in the NBA."
The team was actually Tau Ceramica.
AROUND THE RIM
Mitchell was unaware that Bosh is averaging over 20 points a game (22.4). "I'm just focussed on the big picture," he said. "My focus is, how can I get us better to where we can win some games? Do I look at individual play? Yes. But I look at individual play in the concept of what we're trying to do as a team."