The Memphis Grizzlies get a scoring boost with Vince Carter, but they didn't acquire the game that made his legacy. The days of Carter as a dunk contest winner are long gone. In the latter part of his career, he has reinvented himself as an outside gunner.
Carter, who scored more than 20 points per game in 10 consecutive seasons, doesn't impose his will like he once did. He also doesn't play above the rim anymore.
While his overall effectiveness has diminished, shooting a career-low 40.7 percent from the field last season, he can still set a fire off the bench. Carter averaged 17.6 points per 36 minutes.
Instant perimeter scoring
Incrementally, Carter has become a three-point specialist through the past six seasons. He shot more than 45 percent of his shots from beyond the arc the past two seasons and made 40.6 percent and 39.4 percent from that range in 2012-13 and 2013-14, respectively.
In the playoff loss to the San Antonio Spurs, he knocked down 48.4 percent from long range.
Carter lit up from long range in the latter part of the past two campaigns. In 2012-13, he shot better than 39 percent in each of the last four months after hitting just 34.2 percent that December. This past season, he grew hotter each month from three-point range from November to March, improving by more than two percent every month.
Due to the volume of his three-point attempts, he will generate more scoring than former Memphis sharpshooter Mike Miller, even though Miller was the NBA's second-most accurate three-point shooter. Carter made 1.8 per game—0.5 more than Miller.
He sticks to the outside, taking 60.5 percent of his shots outside 15 feet.
Having said that, he demands an active role while on the court. Each of the past two years, he had usage rates of 23.1 percent.
No longer a finisher in the paint
Carter doesn't power through the lane like he once did. He only took 32.9 percent of attempts in the paint last season.
Also, he struggles to connect when he chooses to penetrate the lane. The 37-year-old made 50.9 percent of his shots at the rim and was far worse from the rest of the paint, as shown by his NBA.com shot chart.
This isn't terrible. Carter took only 3.3 shots per game in the key—and may attempt fewer because the Grizzlies already clog the inside—so he won't adversely impact their interior game.
Additionally, anyone who dreams of watching the iconic dunker throw many down should reconsider that. The 14-year veteran has progressively trimmed dunks from his game. He only connected on 15 last season.
In the same vein, Carter has made fewer trips to the free-throw line than he did earlier in his career. He had a 24.2 percent free-throw rate last season, 5.7 percent lower than his career mark. He drew a career-low 0.81 shooting fouls per game.
The combination of sparse inside drives, occasional dunks and low number of shooting fouls drawn indicate that Carter is shying away from contact. Reducing potential body contact saves his aging frame.
Don't expect anything defensively
Carter's defensive performances have been erratic in the past eight seasons. In that time, he ranged from 103 to 112 points allowed per 100 possessions.
He followed two respectable defensive seasons with a poor one in 2013-14. After allowing 103 and 106 in 2011-12 and 2012-13, respectively, Carter allowed 110. He had a career-low 1.3 defensive win shares.
Against the Spurs, his defense was nonexistent, as he allowed 115 points per 100 possessions.
Even though the Grizzlies can't expect him to resurrect much defensive effectiveness, that won't hurt their defense. Miller didn't put forth effort on that end. Dave Joerger offset that by inserting him with players who defended better, including Mike Conley and Kosta Koufos.
The same would be done for Carter.
Carter will provide a shot of scoring as a sixth man for the Grizzlies. Much of that will come from downtown. He'll remain safe by staying away from contact.
Due to his struggles inside, his two-point percentage is falling. Waning in that area, he's liable to have more games with low field-goal percentages, as he made 33 percent or fewer from the field in 31 of 81 games last year.
That means the Grizzlies will need other bench players scoring effectively.
Still, he makes a difference. Carter will help the Grizzlies in the three-point department and floor spacing while serving as their leading bench scorer.
Unless otherwise noted, advanced metrics come from basketball-reference.com.
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