2018-2019 Season Review: The Pistons Gambled Depth at Their Most Important Position with Jose Calderon

Graphic Image: @gabriella.s_photography

Last offseason Detroit added the most consistent point guard of the then-defending Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

It was Jose Calderon. Woof.

That speaks both to the very low-risk and just slightly higher reward the Pistons took and the incredibly poor play the Cavaliers survived on the way to a slaughtering via the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.

Nevertheless, Detroit took a chance on a very experienced point guard in Jose Calderon to man the ship just in case injuries forced Reggie Jackson and/or Ish Smith out of their respective roles. Somehow, in his mere 49 appearances, Calderon was still a disappointment. 

The good news is that Calderon did not have to start any games. Even better news is that Reggie Jackson remained healthy all season. The bad news is that Smith dealt with a groin injury and a right adductor tear, forcing the 37-year-old Spaniard to play more than the Pistons probably would have imagined. Calderon averaged 2.3 points and 2.3 assists per game on 37.5% shooting, including 24.6% from deep. Even with drastically lowered expectations, those numbers are pretty poor. 

“But Mike! How can a third-string point guard be considered a disappointment?” A fair question.

By comparison, Calderon shot 50.3% from the field and a scalding-hot 46.4% from deep for Cleveland last season. He averaged around four more minutes per game, sure, but he was much more efficient regardless. If Detroit had THAT level of production, or even somewhere in-between, going to Calderon for a few minutes to spare Jackson would not have looked like a train falling into a river. He is a huge negative defensively, posting a defensive rating of 106.7. To make up for it, Calderon needed to be efficient on offense and proceeded to produce a…93.3 offensive rating which is the second-worst of his career. So overall he had a -13.4 net rating. Woof again.

There really is not much to analyze when it comes to Jose Calderon. He will not be back with the team next season, nor should he be. But I previewed before the season that the signing of Calderon was not the worst idea in the world. He was coming off a surprisingly productive season in Cleveland and the Pistons needed some point guard depth. At the veteran minimum it made sense. However, as many things in the NBA do, it did not pan out as planned.

(Featured image by Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports)