Is TJ Ford really on the "cusp"?
The spin coming out of Toronto is that TJ Ford is on the cusp of becoming a premier point guard in the NBA. The analogy they use to persuade us that this is true is the career of Phoenix Suns PG Steve Nash.
I don't see it. First of all, Nash was always a good outside shooter. He blossomed into a superstar when he learned to leverage that outside shot to get to the lane. Once in the lane, he has a clever number of unconventional moves he uses to overcome his lack of athleticism and score or assist on baskets. That is not TJ's game.
Ford has never shown the ability to consistently hit jump shots. In fact, the only thing consistent about Ford's outside shooting is its inconsistency. In college his FG percentage hovered around 40%. The same has held true in the professional ranks. He has never shot the basketball at a clip above 41%.
His productivity in college peaked at an Eff48 of 23.19. His overall production in the pros has been pretty consistently in the 19's. He has shown no inkling of becoming a 30+ producer ala' Steve Nash. In fact, if you look at career numbers along with physical characteristics (height, weight, quickness, etc.) Ford appears to be a lesser version of Charlotte PG Brevin Knight.
The collegiate and professional statistics of Knight and Ford are eerily similar. Both have consistently shot around 40% from the field, and neither has ever shown the capacity to break beyond that number. Their assist totals have been eerily similar, too, around 6 or 7 dimes per game. They seem to be almost the same player.
So what does that portend for Mr. Ford? Well, Knight's career Eff48 is 22.31. Since Knight actually outproduced Ford in his first two seasons in the Association (24.51 for Knight, 19.32 for Ford), Ford's ceiling may not even be that high. And its hard to believe Ford will ever put up better numbers in the pros than he put up at Texas. So, I would say Ford's ceiling Eff48 is around 22 or 23, nowhere near the level of production of Steve Nash and certainly not enough to ever earn him the label of a "premier point guard".
In other words, I think the Toronto Raptors management is ladeling out Jamestown Kool-Aid, and everyone in the media is happily drinking it.