Thursday, May 10, 2007
Lets start off by saying Vince Carter is a GREAT player. Not very good, GREAT. He will probably end up in the Hall Of Fame for his brilliance on the court and his legendary dunks. But for all of his greatness, the man does not seem to really care about really fulfilling his or his teams potential. Once again, it looks like Vince and his Nets will be going down to a hungrier team this year, this time LeBron James and his Clevelan Cavaliers. Lets take a deeper look at VC. What makes him great? What is missing in his game? Why does he always seem to let down when it matters most? Lets start answering some of those questions.
Vince Carter cannot be stopped one-on-one and must be double teamed in order to be contained. Though his handle can look sloppy at times, the ball is rarely taken from him because his hands are so big and so strong. When he is in the mood, he can attack the basket and will not be stopped. He has a tremendous shoulder dip move which bowls over just about any defender, including stout 7 footers; VC's body strength is elite for a wing. When he gets to the rim, he uses either his great leaping ability to jump over helpless defenders (see Weis, Fredric) or those tremendous hands to finish on flips or runners. He is so strong in the upper body and in his hands that he can absorb a viscious blow in the paint and still finish. When he goes to the free throw line, he hits about 80% of the time. On those nights Vince doesn't feel like driving (which no one can predict besides Vince himself), he has one of the deadliest jump shots in the league, with a quiet release and unmatched elevation; VC might have the most range on his jumper in the NBA. He can get the shot whenever he wants because of the great elevation but also because his upper-body strength prevents defenders from getting into him. Carter sees the court well and can break the double team. He can rebound on both ends of the court. He has enough defensive skills to neutralize his man when he is interested. He has become more durable and played in all 82 games this past season, logging heavy minutes to boot. In short, VC posseses every tangible skill one could want in a basketball player.
There are only a few tangible weakneses in VC's game. He doesn't play that hard on defense, but he is no sieve. He does not have much of a midrange game; he prefers the long jumper or the drive all the way to the hoop. His sloppy handle does not lead to turnovers but it does casue for the offense around him to bog down a bit. The primary problems with Vince Carter are almost intangible. It all starts with his demeanor. Whether it his fault or not, Vince has a sullen expression and lackadasical body language (part of this is because the game is so easy for him, it looks like he is not trying). He is not a natural leader and comes off a bit aloof on the court. The picture above should be familiar to anyone who has watched VC throughout his career; I have never seen a player overeact or feign more injuries than Vince Carter. That does not project the kind of iron will that is needed to win big in the NBA.
Vince is most likely the Dominique Wilkens of our era: great dunker, great talent, not a champion. Thats not necesarily a bad thing; Dominique is enshrined in Springfield and is one of the more memorable players in NBA history. It's just that when we talk about Vince Carter, we'll always be asking "what if".