Jack making his point

RYAN WOLSTAT

, Last Updated: 3:19 AM ET

Jarrett Jack took T.J. Ford's starting point guard gig last year in Indiana and over the next few games, he might just take advantage of Jose Calderon's injury and do the same thing in Toronto.

Jack is not the dead-eye shooter Calderon is, nor is he a pass-first "true" point guard like the Spaniard, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that his skill-set meshes better with the rest of the starting lineup than Calderon's.

Since he isn't nearly as accurate an outside shooter, Jack mixes up his game far more. He attacks the hoop more frequently and aggressively and doesn't dominate the ball as much, which allows other players, particularly Hedo Turkoglu, to handle it more often. Turkoglu excels when he is more involved. Playing with Jack, he gets the chance to be the initiator of the offence and it has led to an improvement in his game (season bests in points and assists in his previous two games).

Most importantly, though, is that Jack, while not a standout defender, still is a huge improvement at that end of the floor over Calderon. Jack keeps his man in front of him better, while getting on the boards and fighting through screens more effectively. There simply is no way to be passable defensively if Calderon is starting with two other below-average defenders in Andrea Bargnani and Turkoglu. Jack at least takes some of the pressure of his big men by not allowing as much guard penetration.

Jack also is a much more durable performer than Calderon, who has not yet proven he can withstand the toll of being a starting point guard.

Calderon made it through just 68 games last season, his first as a starter after he too supplanted Ford and looks to be either out of the lineup or slowed with his current hip injury for a while.

Meanwhile, Jack has played in 232 straight games, the league's fifth-longest current streak. Throughout his career, Jack has been much more effective as a starter. His shooting percentage is better and he scores almost twice as many points per outing in about 10 minutes more per game. The contrast was most remarkable last season in Indiana, where he went from a reserve averaging 8.8 points-per-game on 39% shooting, to a starter putting up 15.4 points a night on 47.5% shooting. He also has rebounded of late from a terrible start as he re-adjusted to a backup role. It is no coincidence he has played his best basketball over the past week while supplanting the hobbled Calderon in the starting lineup.

This is not to say there is no longer a role in Toronto for Calderon. Quite the contrary, actually. Though he, like Jack, has posted better numbers as a starter, Calderon also has had success as a backup and likely would thrive even more now playing against second units. And just as good defensive teams cover for middling defenders such as Jameer Nelson, Mike Bibby and Tony Parker, Calderon would look much improved on defence playing alongside Amir Johnson, Sonny Weems and eventually, Reggie Evans.

The last thing Raptors president/general manager Bryan Colangelo likely wanted when he went hard after Jack this summer was a repeat of the Ford-Calderon controversy that ended with Ford being dealt away.

However, it would be folly to believe he didn't see the possibility arising. Still, Calderon is a far better team player than Ford was (he has graciously shared the point guard limelight with young star Ricky Rubio on the Spanish national team) and will be more willing to take a lesser role, especially while his injury heals. If Jack shines again as a starter, as he has in the past, and success for the team follows, Calderon won't have much of a choice.

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JARRETT JACK CAREER COMPARISON

AS STARTER AS RESERVE

156 games 192

34 minutes per game 23 minutes per game

46.3% from the field 42.5%

36.2% from three 31.4% from three

87.3% from the line 82.5% from the line

5.0 assists 3.2 assists

13.2 ppg 8.1 ppg

2.4 turnovers 1.8 turnovers

1.1 steals 0.6 steals


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