In this thread, we follow Calderon and Garbajosa's 2007/2008 season in Toronto. Let's continue the discussion here. The Toronto Raptors have had a busy off-season, bringing in several new international players along with former US National Team member Jermaine O'Neal. The Canadian franchise has one of the most internationally influenced teams in the NBA.
To the disappointment of NBA fans, Jorge Garbajosa is gone after a bitter summer with the Raptors in which they refused to let him join the Spanish National Team. Garbajosa was eventually released by the Raptors (nobody knows the true conditions, but I suspect that he was not allowed to join another NBA team) and Garbajosa was given an $18,000,000 contract by Khimki.
Calderon is the lone Spaniard left on a team that still has a great international flavor. Rasho Nesterovic and TJ Ford were both traded during the summer in exchange for Jermaine O'Neal. This means that Calderon is the undisputed starter. Roko Leni Ukic, from Slovenia, will back him up.
Last year, with Ford, Calderon averaged 11 points, 8 assists, and a 52% shooting average in 30 minutes per game. He'll get a more minutes per game this year, so the statistics of this point guard will go up as well. He had one of the highest (maybe even the highest) assist-to-turnover ratio in the NBA last year.
Most of Toronto's team has plenty of experience overseas. The former first overall draft pick, Italian Andrei Bargnani, will continue to improve playing behind Chris Bosh and O'Neal, and he might pick up minutes as a small forward. Dunker Jamario Moon and Hassan Adams both played rather unsuccesful for a year in Italy. Point guard Will Solomon played several years in European leagues, winning the 2004 ULEB Cup with Efes Pilsen. Anthony Parker won the Euroleague MVP award in 2005 and 2006, and although his game has not translated as well to the NBA, he still figures to be a major part of the Raptor's plans. These international players will be joined by Nathan Jawai, a 6'10" Australian Aboriginal, who signed a two-year rookie contract with the team.
The Dual Centers, Chris Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal have both logged extensive time playing for the US National Team. O'Neal will need some time to adjust to the style of play that Bosh and Calderon have thrived with.
Coach Sam Mitchell has been accused of discriminating against international players in the past. Many of the accusations come from Mitchell's treatment of Jorge Garbajosa, who turned out to have serious injuries. Nevertheless, Mitchell has had tremendous success with this team and his roster of internationally experienced players.
For his part, O'Neal is excited to be teamed up with Calderon:
O'Neal Excited - by Doug Smith, The Toronto Star, September 29, 2008
..."Me, Chris Bosh and Jose (Calderon) sat down after the scrimmage (last week) and it was like, 'Man, we have a real shot here,' " newcomer Jermaine O'Neal said. "We've got a real shot.
"Obviously, we have the talent on paper and if we mentally believe that and bring that swagger every day, that we're the best team on the floor every time we step on the floor, we've got a shot at doing some great things this year."...Calderon Ready for Increased Workload - by Doug Smith, The Toronto Star, September 26, 2008
...Calderon has spent every summer for the past decade with Spain's national team, either at an Olympics, a world championship, a European tournament or qualification event.
...With the departure of T.J. Ford to Indiana in the Jermaine O'Neal trade, and the uncertain prospects of rookie Roko Ukic and Will Solomon, an unproven free agent signed out of Europe as the primary backups, Calderon will be asked to carry a heavier load.
And the groin, while a problem in Beijing, no longer is an issue.
"I feel normal," he said. "I feel 100 per cent, no pain at all, perfect for the training camp."
Bosh and Calderon, aside from showing off the new uniforms – which the Raptors will wear at home on opening night Oct. 31 – had their Olympic medals on display at yesterday's unveiling.
The U.S. defeated Spain 118-107 in the Olympic final.
If there was any question about the Olympics being a bittersweet experience for Calderon, he quickly dismissed it.
"It was tough, but it wasn't tougher than the year before at the Eurobasket where we lost (to Russia in the gold-medal game)," he said. "We lost that and got the silver. This one, we feel like we won something – we won the silver medal.
"The Americans were an unbelievable team and we played really good against them. I think everybody sees a difference there, but it's not that big. We felt really good. When we were on the podium waiting for the medals it was different, we enjoyed the moment, not thinking we just lost the game.
"Everybody likes to win, for sure, but we have to be realistic. They played good the whole tournament. They've got a really good team and we just couldn't make it."