Editor’s note: There are a few new faces in the Dallas Mavericks front office. While there were no big splashes in their first free agency they did add a piece or two that should make an impact. But we can always ask for more. So we as a staff took some time to ask: if we could add any former Maverick from the post-title years to the 2021-22 Mavericks who would it be and why? I mean, what else are we supposed to do with this down time before training camp?
A team with Luka Doncic can always use more shooting. Another player who can attack scrambled defenses would also be a bonus. Calderon provides both an absolutely elite shooter and a secondary playmaker.
Calderon’s primary strength was his shooting. Calderon took 8.8 threes per 100 possessions. This shot volume is higher than it seems due to the context of the league. In 2013-14, the Mavericks averaged 24.3 three point attempts per 100 possessions. The 2020-21 Mavericks averaged 39.1 3 point attempts per 100 possessions. Scaled to the current teams attempt level, Calderon’s attempts come out to 14.2 attempts per 100 possessions.
Calderon married that high level of volume with elite accuracy. His 44.9 percent 3 point shooting would have been elite in any era. The league three point percentage has not advanced much as it was 36.0 percent in 2013-14 and was 36.7 percent this year. That combination of accuracy and volume shooting, paired with Luka’s shot creation could be magical.
Calderon shot 46.4 percent on catch and shoot threes in 2013-14. He shot 49.4 percent on shots classified as open and 48.7 percent on shots classified as wide open. He was absolutely lethal if left open.
Calderon had also already adjusted to playing primarily as a secondary creator. While Calderon was nominally the point guard, Monta Ellis was the primary shot creator for the Mavericks that season. Despite Ellis having the ball so much, Calderon still averaged 4.7 assists per game against only 1.3 turnovers. He had averaged as many as 8.9 assists per game in previous seasons.
Calderon was extremely adept at running a pick and roll based offense. This skill should prevent the offense from tanking while Luka is sitting. He was experienced being the primary playmaker on other teams which would prove useful in this setting.
It is difficult to imagine a better offensive pairing in the backcourt with Luka than Calderon. Unfortunately, offense is not the only side of the ball. Calderon was an absolutely terrible defender. He allowed a field goal percentage 4.3 percent higher than expected this season(48.3 percent allowed, 44.1 percent expected). He was worse than expected in every defensive area.
The Mavericks defense was 6.9 points per 48 minutes worse with Calderon on the court than off that season. Calderon would immediately become the worst defender on the team even if Kristaps Porzingis’ struggles continue.
Overall, Calderon would be a fantastic addition to turn the Mavericks into a team that should be incredibly fun to watch, but likely not an actual contender. Luka, Calderon, Reggie Bullock, Dorian Finney-Smith and Porzingis would likely be the best offense in the history of basketball. It is difficult to even explain the level of spacing that team has around Luka.
The defense would likely be too bad to truly contend but hope springs eternal and if Porzingis can return to his unicorn ways, perhaps this team even has enough length and defense to compensate for Calderon, turning them into a true contender. Even if the defense kept the team from winning in the playoffs, it would be incredibly fun to watch and that makes Calderon a great addition.