I've been thinking about this since the time I had a debate with a Raptor fan on which point guard is better? a former Utes star with a YMCA-esque game or someone who plays for the Spanish national team.
Although Andre Miller's game is on the decline, I've always thought that he's better than Calderon, and has a money-saving contract, unlike Calderon's $10.5M remaining. In fact, in DraftExpress, (Phoenix Suns guard) Kendall Marshall's best case is Andre Miller while his worst case is Jose Calderon, which shows the gap in the talent between the two point guards.
Both players can pass well. I really do not know about Calderon's lob passing talent, but I think it is on par with Miller's, as he established connections with the likes of Chris Bosh, DeMar DeRozan, and Amir Johnson. Miller's game as mentioned, is like the one from the YMCA: post-up and make crafty moves to score. Calderon's offensive game is based on his three-point touch. Both are below-average defenders, but where Miller is rated to be better is he has the strength to make up for his lack of speed, and has the IQ to make steals on some occasions. But because of the fact that Miller has the grit to make late-game takeovers (see 28-point night versus Philadelphia last season), this is were he is said to be better than Calderon.
But a Raptor fan dares to deny, and I wonder why. Let's look at the two players' stats sequenced from the 2005-2006 season to the 2011-2012 season (from BasketballReference.com):
Miller - 36.2%, 34.3%, 32.0%, 30.2%, 30.3%, 35.7%, 36.5% (Career Average: 35.1%)
Calderon - 29.1%, 39.7%, 42.3%, 41.0%, 33.8%, 43.0%, 44.2% (Career Average: 39.6%)
Observation: When it comes to unselfishness, it seems that Calderon is better in that aspect. With exception to that 33.8% in the '09-'10 season (Hedo Turkoglu was a Raptor that time so there's a reason why the percentage is low), Calderon has shown that he is an extremely underrated unselfish point guard. Andre Miller, on the other hand, has been sometimes criticized to be a selfish point guard (just ask Kalen of Roundball Mining Company) despite his solid career assist average. Speaking of career assist average, Miller is better stat-wise, for his 7.6 slightly edges Calderon's 4.2.
But that Raptor fan has always thought Miller is considered a combo guard. I don't know what was going on in his mind that time, but the next stats made a bit of a shock to me:
Miller - 20.0%, 19.2%, 22.6%, 21.8%, 23.8%, 20.6% (Career: 21.2%)
Calderon - 14.1%, 19.5%, 16.8%, 16.9%, 17.9%, 16.8%, 16.0% (Career: 16.9%)
Observation: The Raptor fan seems right. I'm not gonna fully agree that Miller is a ball-hogging player who happens to play as a point guard. Just like what is pointed out in this archive post by Unitary Executives, Miller's unselfish game is unique that the defense gets surprised by some open looks he creates. Observing the Nuggets offense when Miller is on the court, he can find the open man by way of his teammates' movement, which makes up for the Nuggets' lack of halfcourt offense.
About passing? For most of his career, Andre Miller is clearly the better passer. But the aspect of a better passer is how less he coughs up the ball. Let's see this stats:
Miller - 19.5%, 17.7%, 13.7%, 14.0%, 13.8%, 16.8%, 22.0% (Career: 16.6%)
Calderon - 22.3%, 16.2%, 14.2%, 16.7%, 13.9%, 18.8%, 17.0% (Career: 16.7%)
Observation: According to the career percentages: Miller is the more precise passer with 16.6% compared to Calderon's 16.7%. The problem is: those stats are deceiving. Because of age and the adjustment to coming off the bench, Miller's passing has regressed (not to mention his overall offensive game) as shown by his 22.0% turnover percentage in 2011-2012 compared to Caleron's 17.0%. Miller's game is on the decline, which shows the ugly, "painful to hear" truth about what the Raptor fan said about Miller being an aging point guard.
I am not going to say Miller should be traded for Calderon (yet), because his takeover mentality has helped us on some games (like the 92-89 win at Indiana). I still love his YMCA-esque game, bullying the smaller or physically inferior defenders, which makes them frustrated while witnessing Miller's craftiness and savvy.
But who would you prefer? The declining "combo" guard, or the "consistently unselfish" one?
Andre Miller - Don't trade him! He's still a player. If it wasn't for him, Nuggets could have lost last year's playoff series to the Lakers, 4-1. (18 votes)
Jose Calderon - Look at the stats, He's as good (or better) as a passer. And oh yes, I can shoot threes. Maybe in a winning environment like in Denver, that passing talent will blossom. (15 votes)
33 total votes