There’s no denying it, bringing Jarrett Jack to the Toronto Raptors was a good move. A step in the right direction. At least that’s what the consensus seems to be. A young combo guard coming off a career high in points and rebounds. A very genuine and close relationship with the franchise Chris Bosh. What’s there not to like? When Chris himself walked into the room after Jack’s press conference, the positive vibe and mood was infectious. But lost in the midst of all the smiles, pictures, and handshakes was one small fact: Jarrett Jack expects to play.
A question I kept asking myself yesterday was “Why does the media keep assuming he will be the back-up PG”
Besides his durability and often-mentioned leadership, if there’s one thing that Jack represents, it’s that competitive spirit only found in NBA players. He comes off as one of those players who realize there’s no way to contribute while watching from the bench. If the game is on the line, he wants to be out there on the court. As laid back and professional Jarrett seemed during his presser, I felt like there was a certain swagger and confidence there. In other words: Playing time is important to Mr. Jack.
When Paul Jones of RaptorsTV asked him what was “shocking” about possibly joining the Raptors, Jack brought up the fact that Toronto seems to be locked in to Jose Calderon being their starting PG. To offset that deterrence, the Raptors were able to free up some minutes at the two with the losses of Jason Kapono and Anthony Parker. But with the addition of Antoine Wright (who averaged nearly 24 minutes on a playoff Dallas squad) and rookie DeMar DeRozan (who most expect to average at least 15-18 minutes, something similar to T-Mac’s rookie year), is there really a significant amount of minutes available at the two to be had?
Let’s say Wright proves to be more than adequate on the defensive end. Surely Toronto can afford to give him somewhere around twenty-four minutes, especially if the Mavs could. Jarrett Jack has been noted for his defense before, but I would think most teams would rather give minutes to the taller player if they’re near equal in defensive talent. And what about the intriguing USC product DeMar DeRozan? If he can even show us that he’s not as raw as people made him out to be, then the coaching staff will have no choice but to give him all the minutes he can handle.
Sure, those are a lot of “What Ifs”. But in my opinion, it just seems like too much of a gamble on Jack’s part. There are a few teams out there that would have been a better situation for a 25-year-old point guard coming off one of his best years as a pro. When you factor in the possibility of Carlos Delfino coming in, it only further makes it riskier for Jack to find those minutes everybody claims to be at the two spot.
I think it’s also important to note the fact that the two times Jack was confronted with the issue of starting, the former Pacer did not say he planned on being a reserve. In fact, when asked by Adnan Virk of RaptorsTV about whether Colangelo had gone into any specifics about his role, Jack was honest with his answer.
“He didn’t go into any specifics. I think he’s going to leave it up to coach Triano and myself.” Jack replied. “And come training camp, everybody will let the chips fall where they may.”
I think this is very telling of the situation, especially considering the previous assumption that GM Bryan Colangelo had informed Jack of his role before he proposed an offer sheet. You would think something like this would have been brought up during negotiations, especially in an attempt to avoid anything similar to what happened between Calderon and Ford. The reason why Jose and TJ didn’t work out was because they couldn’t be placed on the court at the same time. But can Jose and Jack?
“I think for a team to do well, you’ve got to have balance.” Jack said in response to a question by Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “If I’m in the starting line-up, and you have Jose, Chris, Andrea, Hedo, those guys definitely have to get their touches and looks at the basket.”
Who’s not to say that can’t work out? It very well could. But if you were to ask me, having someone who says they’re a natural PG play the two is never a good look. Usually undersized twos earn that role and title because of their inability to play the point guard position. And it also rarely works out when you don’t have any real defensive presence at the other four positions.
At this point, let me remind the readers that all this uncertainty isn’t a bad thing for the team or its fans. In fact, it’s a great thing to have inner competition. Teams that hold themselves professionally and expect big things push each other day in and day out. The only person that should be at least a bit worried is Jose Calderon. Coming off a disappointing year plagued with injury, the Spaniard has to come out firing at all cylinders if he wants to prevent Jack (started 53 games last season) from taking over his starting spot.
The future is wide open at the moment. And in a league where the schedule is strenuous, having multiple options is a welcomed blessing. Now, it all becomes a matter of what you do with the options available. The Toronto Raptors have been dealt a pair of aces in Jose Calderon and Jarrett Jack. And as fans, we can’t wait to see where the chips fall.
– The Salute