Veteran point guard Jose Calderon has bounced around the league quite a bit in his NBA career before ultimately landing with the Los Angeles Lakers. Although Calderon has played for four different teams before being acquired by the Lakers, five if you count the Chicago Bulls who he never actually suited up for, the 35-year-old made a name for himself during his stint with the Toronto Raptors.
Before facing the Lakers on Friday night, rising star DeMar DeRozan talked about the impact Calderon had on him during their time playing alongside one another in Toronto. DeRozan was highly complimentary of his former teammate, via Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News:
“I credit a lot of the player I am today to Jose,” DeRozan said. “He gave me a lot of confidence early on, trusting me and giving me the ball, trusting me to shoot and never get down if you have a bad game and if you’re missing a few shots. He always believed in me.”
After helping lead the Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, DeRozan has taken his game to another level during the 2016-17 campaign. DeRozan has been an unstoppable force offensively with the Compton native torching opponents on a nightly basis averaging 28.9 points per game (3rd in the NBA) before Friday’s game.
Calderon witnessed all the work DeRozan put into his game during the early years and is glad it is paying for his former teammate, via Raptors reporter Josh Lewenberg:
Calderon on DeRozan: "I saw all the hours he put out there in that gym and its great to see him be successful… I love him. I love the guy"
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) December 2, 2016
Calderon, who came to the Lakers knowing his role would be limited, has been crucial for the team while starter D’Angelo Russell nurses a sore left knee. The journeyman has taken over the starting role for the time being and has played well over the past few games.
Not only is Calderon helping fill the void at point guard, but he’s also received praise for his leadership skills. The Spanish guard’s reputation precedes him as he helps young players develop in Los Angeles the same way he did with DeRozan in Toronto.