Ranking the 13 Worst Cavaliers starters of the LeBron James return era

Isaiah Thomas and LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
Isaiah Thomas and LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images /
10 of 14
Cleveland Cavaliers
Jose Calderon, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images /

Worst Starter No. 5 – Jose Calderon

In the 2008-09 NBA season, Jose Calderon set the second-longest streak in NBA history for consecutive free throws made, hitting 87 straight. He finished the year with a league-leading 98.1 percent percentage from the stripe.

When the Spanish point guard joined the Cleveland Cavaliers nine seasons later, his free-throw shooting had eroded down to 80 percent, as had the rest of his game. The once dynamic passing maestro was simply a bit player, a capable facilitator (3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio) but without any juice left to his game.

Calderon, never a high-octane scorer, started 32 games for the Cavaliers in 2017-18 but averaged just 4.5 points per contest (6.4 in starts). He shot the ball well (48.1 percent from deep on 81 attempts) but only because his shots were all wide open; he took fewer than five shots per game. His 14 percent usage was in the 3rd percentile leaguewide that year.

Calderon played with some talented players, and his minutes were closely linked to LeBron’s, so he had a positive on/off number, but he was merely a bit player. That was useful at times, but the playoff tape tells the tale: he appeared in only 13 playoff games (of the team’s 22), averaging eight minutes per game (despite starting three times) and 1.8 points per contest.

He faded fast, spending one more year with the Detroit Pistons before hanging it up in the NBA. At the end of his career he helped the Cavs at times, but he was one of the worst starters of the LeBron return era.