A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘Vince Carter

Deconstructing a myth: Vince Carter having “Michael Jordan potential”

with 2 comments

Vince Carter playing with the Orlando Magic

Image via Wikipedia

If you’re like me, you like to rag on both Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady for the drive they didn’t have. Both had a tremendous mix of athleticism, size and skill and a frustrating ambivalence about their legacy, winning and team’s success.

Putting Tracy McGrady aside who perhaps really did have historic talent and touched on that legendary potential for a season (2002-2003), what I have never understood is the narrative that Vince Carter could have been Michael Jordan and just didn’t care enough to . This is false for a number of reasons.

The first thing that should be noted is that as athletic as Vince Carter was, Michael Jordan he was not. Young Carter had Jordan’s vertical talent, but Jordan’s first step and explosiveness was at another level than his, or anyone else’s size in NBA history. Explosiveness on the ground is more important than explosiveness vertically – If you can break through into the paint, this forces the defense inward and opens a myriad of possibilities for your team offensively. Vertical explosiveness simply helps you finish at the rim more, which is valuable but not as much as penetrations. Furthermore, most high end athletes who are less vertically talented than Carter, are strong enough finishers in their own right. Thus the marginal benefit of Carter’s all time vertical ability from that point is comparatively small. But the marginal benefit between a high end penetrator and one of the best penetrators of all time is much higher. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

November 5, 2011 at 3:57 pm

The Orlando Panic

with 5 comments

Yesterday was one heck of a day for the Orlando Magic.  Not one but two blockbuster trades.  Away go two of the team’s starters (Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis) plus two more rotation players (Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus).  In come Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu & change.  Stunning, I cannot remember a team so drastically remaking itself so quickly after so much success.

My initial thought was that this wasn’t wise.  Typically when we see teams that almost win the whole shebang do violent changes to themselves in the name of “we’re still not good enough!”, it doesn’t work.  A great team that functions a particular way isn’t likely to be able to re-made with a very different set of talent and become significantly better, and it has a very good chance of getting worse.  If the franchise really believes that the team’s current slide signifies that the team’s better days are behind it, then I get why they’d make the change – but why would you react so dramatically after such a small sample size?

More likely is that the team had simply been unhappy with Lewis and Carter because of their poor play in last year’s playoffs and they just wanted them gone for comparable talent.  I get that, but if I were running the franchise I’d try to look at very specific weaknesses and address them with as minimal disruption as possible.

The most interesting part of the trade to me is the acquisition of Arenas.  To be honest, when I watched the Magic struggle against the Celtics last year, the thing I kept thinking about was not Lewis or Carter, but Jameer Nelson.  Nelson was playing better than Lewis and Carter at the time, but Nelson’s issues to me seemed more systematic.  The best thing you can do for Dwight Howard is get him guy’s with great court vision.  If Howard had a Rajon Rondo (or obviously a Nash, a Kidd, a Paul, etc), I think he has those super-dominant games we see him have against every team much more consistently.  Do that, and the Magic probably win some titles.

So what do the Magic do?  They keep the mediocre-passer, great-scorer Nelson, and acquire another mediocre-passer, great-scorer in Arenas.  Yikes.  It’s as if they read in the manual that it’s good to have a great combo guard scorer 6th man, without considering that that really only makes sense when your starting point guard isn’t also a combo guard.

Sigh.  Well, I’m certainly not going to guarantee this won’t work.  The team is going to end up looking significantly different, and there’s always the chance that it settles into a functioning system that is superior to what was before, but I really doubt I’ll ever come to the conclusion that these trades were the result of a master plan.

As far as the other teams involved.  Washington clearly made a smart trade – the goal was to reduce their long term cap hit from Arenas who couldn’t possibly fit into the Wizards’ future.  Phoenix, unlike Orlando, is far enough away from contending that a big shake up makes sense presuming they want to become contenders again – it may or may not work, but with Nash at the helm, at this point it seems a lock that the offense will always be good, and Gortat may give major help to the defense.

Why New York should think twice about getting Melo

with one comment

Y’all are probably tired of just hearing from me, so please enjoy a post from Julien Rodger.  Julien has been a commenter on ASFW from the beginning, and is also part of the rogue’s gallery over at RealGM.  I’m looking forward to hearing more of his thoughts on this forum. ~MJ



I’m not just a contrarian by opposing this. On the surface it’s hard to deny getting a star like Carmelo Anthony for next to nothing

But look, just because someone offers you free candy doesn’t mean you should take it. I see a number of hazards coming with the Knicks acquiring Carmelo Anthony

Amare, Melo and Felton will cost 43 and 47 million the next two years, if Felton is extended that number will go even higher the years after. With a 57 mil or so salary cap, bringing in supporting depth and badly needed interior defense after this will be difficult and take years. Unlike the Heat, I don’t see the Knicks being more than a 2nd round team without this. Spending on Melo also means no chance at Paul, Deron, or Dwight’s free agencies. Melo, Amare and minimum player cap holds will take them to 48 million payroll alone in 2012 free agency, giving them no chance at a 3rd maximum player even if the new CBA doesn’t prevent such star groupings.

Carmelo and Amare are worth max money as high volume, 25ppg scorers. But on the same team this contribution will overlap. The marginal utility of a 2nd high volume scorer is nowhere near as high as the 1st. Amare and Carmelo don’t contribute much else to the game but scoring, fortunately Felton fits well as their playmaker, but again I question whether paying Melo maximum money for a dominant scorer you already have is worth giving up any interior defense or bench. They will be great offensively, but the Knicks already are with Felton and Amare alone. Melo’s production is not a direct need.

Perhaps most importantly is the question of winning foundation and culture. Can you go to war with Carmelo and Amare like you can players like Kevin Garnett? I don’t think so. Carmelo looked like he was making a leap as a winning player after the Billups trade, but his quitting on Denver and pandering to New York is reminding me increasingly of Vince Carter. He wants to go to New York not to win more games, but because it’s New York. The best place for him to win a title would be Orlando or Dallas (or my ‘no chance in hell’ choice, the Milwaukee Bucks. Seriously Melo and Bogut would be perfect), but it’s the lights of New York and not the Finals that attracts him, which worries me.

Speaking of Vince. I can’t help but think of December 2004 when after making the finals in 2002 and 2003 and an underrated 2004 war with the champion Pistons, the Nets were offered Carter in a similar free candy situation and took it. Pre Vince they were a dominant defensive team with depth and toughness. Post Vince, they had no frontcourt or depth after the Kidd, Carter, and Jefferson salaries and were a soft 2nd round knockout. In retrospect perhaps the right move was going forward with Kidd, Jefferson and a troupe of good role players instead of biting on Carter. The Bulls did this by saying no to Melo for Noah and it looks brilliant right now. The Knicks could regret a Melo acquisition for the same reasons.

I am also reminded of Iverson and Melo’s pairing in Denver. Like Melo and Amare, both players contributed as scorers only and the marginal utility of adding Iverson was not high because of what Melo already gave them. Defense and culture wise that Nuggets team was also nowhere close to what you want to go far in the playoffs. Iverson and Melo prove you can’t just match 2 offensive stars together and expect a contender, let alone more than a 1st round knockout as a guarantee.

The Knicks have been waiting a long time to win games again. With Felton, Melo and Amare they will be a shoo in for 45 win+ seasons and 2nd round appearances for the immediate future. It’s better than the Isiah era. It’s not a strikeout. But everyone knows the real drought for Knicks fans isn’t the 10 years since they’ve have been pretty good, but the 37 years since their last title. If the Knicks are serious about winning a title anytime soon they should do a double take on trading for or signing Melo, because I have a hard time seeing a Melo and Amare led team seriously competing for the NBA championship.

Written by jr.

December 15, 2010 at 7:20 pm

2010-11 NBA Predictions: 6th Man of the Year

leave a comment »

I used the phrase “borderline irrationality” before, but there’s nothing borderline about this award.  Case in point:  Manu Ginobili finished a distant 4th in the voting last year.  He qualified as 6th man based on the NBA definition, and he’s was far superior than anyone else who qualified, so why wasn’t he a lock to win this award?  With the Most Improved Player award you can at least point to the Kevin Durants of the world missing out because they’re already getting plenty of accolade love elsewhere, and the award was design to give a shout out to someone who wouldn’t ordinarily get one.

6th man of the year?  Look, there is no 5th man or 7th man of the year award.  The award exists specifically to reward players who are good enough to be a starter, but who are sacrificing to help their team.  You want to honor that sacrifice, then you certainly don’t ignore players who are “too good” here.  You can’t even use the argument that Ginobili’s getting other awards instead because he didn’t get ANY awards last year.  No All-NBA, or All-Star spot for this guy, specifically because of his sacrifice, and he can’t even get this lousy award?  Now to paint a more full picture:

1)      Ginobili has won the award before, and that’s probably factoring in here – but that just begs the question of why voters don’t want to vote for him a second time.

2)      Ginobili is in that role, partly because his style of play makes him suite to play less minutes that a real superstar would play, so calling it a “sacrifice” is debatable in his case in particular – but it would make zero sense for a voter to use that fact to not vote for Ginobili.

Ending the rant – where does that leave us?  Well, if Ginobili were slated to be a 6th man against this year, I’d get stubborn and make him my pick while at the same time saying I didn’t expect him to get the award.  At this point though, the evidence I see has him starting, so I’ll try for an honest to god prediction.

The guy I see right now, who is on a great team, is getting good minutes, and is riding a wave of Shane Battier-esque role player buzz is…

JJ Redick

He’s gone through quite the transition from hated Dukie to the guy people praise while find new ways to hate Vince Carter.  Redick’s solid play during Orlando’s deep playoff run helped make him a prized free agent this off-season.  The Magic though didn’t want to let Redick go, and so he stays in the same role that suited him so well previously.    He’ll never become a star in this role, but he just might get an increasing amount of positive attention.