Underrated PG Calderon comes to Big D with one job in mind

DALLAS — He’s never been a household name since entering the NBA in the 2005-06 season following a successful international career, but that’s just fine with new Dallas Mavericks point guard Jose Calderon.

Never known for his flashy play, Calderon has quietly and unassumingly elevated himself among the league’s elite lead guards since joining the Toronto Raptors his rookie season. Now, after splitting last season in Toronto and Detroit, the 31-year-old floor general hopes to engineer the Mavericks back to the postseason.

“I think we’ve got a team that knows how to play basketball,” Calderon said of his new squad after being introduced to the Dallas fans and media last Thursday. “There’s other teams that just rely on good players, but I think we can be a really good basketball team. And when we play as a team, it’s going to be easier to get to where we want to be, so I’m real excited. I think playing with these guys is going to make my job a little bit easier. I’m ready for it and I really want to get started knowing these guys on the court and just have fun.”

The eight-year veteran is the Raptors’ all-time leader in assists and free-throw percentage, yet he has never garnered the same attention that many players at his position get from the media. Still, while becoming one of the most efficient lead guards in the game, Calderon has chosen to let his play do the talking.

And that’s something the 6-foot-3 guard says won’t change now that he’s in a Mavericks uniform.

Playing 73 games last season, Calderon led the Association in 3-point shooting while connecting on 46.1 percent from behind the arc. He also averaged 11.3 points and 7.1 assists, making the free agent attractive for a Dallas franchise eager to stabilize the point position after Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was forced to rotate through a revolving door while the team missed the playoffs for the first time since 2000 after finishing with a 41-41 record.

The pass-first Spaniard now hopes to assist 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki in transforming the Mavs into a contender, bringing along his efficient play and a career average of just 1.73 turnovers an outing.

“More than anything it’s just get the ball to [Nowitzki] in the right spots — the right spot at the right moment,” he said while breaking down his job description. “It’s the same thing with Monta [Ellis] or [Samuel] Dalembert. … It’s just try to deliver that ball at the right time, try not to turn the ball over and try to do the easy things. You don’t have to do the fancy stuff, just be effective. That’s what the point guard has got to do and that’s my job.

“We are a team. We have to work all together as a team to be successful, and I’m here to help them all they want.”