February 05, 2008
It was a bit of a surprise, but T.J. Ford returned to the Raptors line-up in Miami last night. Ford came off the bench to play 17 minutes against the Heat's scrubs, posting four points, four assists, two steals and just one turnover. Not a bad line for the little guy's first real crack at game speed in almost two months since suffering a stinger in his neck.
And while I'm sure members of the Raptors' organization are happy as Clamato Juice to have Ford back healthy, his return does present Coach Sam Mitchell with an interesting dilemma: Who starts at point guard again -- Jose Calderon or T.J. Ford?
It's no secret that Calderon has been tearing up the Eastern Conference since taking over for Ford. With solid starter minutes, Calderon has averaged 14 points (on 53% shooting) and 10 dimes. Add to that a ridiculous league-leading 5.56 assist-to-turnover ratio, and the Spaniard even had some NBA pundits claiming he should make the All-Star Game. He's been incredible.
But does Calderon's play mean Ford shouldn't be awarded his starting point spot back? I say no.
First off, a player should ever lose their job because of injury. That doesn't seem right. From all reports, Ford has worked his tail off in his attempt to comeback. You think he was visualizing the bench every time he ran lines or lifted a dumbbell? No way. The starting spot was Ford's before the fluke accident; it should be his when he returns. To take it away from him would be emotionally deflating.
In addition, Calderon has proven he can succeed in both the starter and back-up roles, so you have to believe his play would remain steady. He has a lot of experience preparing for a game off the bench; T.J., not so much.
But what do you think? Does a healthy Ford deserve his starting spot back? Could moving Calderon back to the bench hurt the Raptors' recent success? And hey, what about Darrick Martin? Let's hear it.