In front of 18,000 fans, the Dallas Mavericks entered the Air Canada Centre Wednesday evening with a strong start, but were overcome by a gallant effort by a surging Toronto Raptors squad. While the game itself was filled with many story lines (e.g., DeMar DeRozan`s game high 40 points, Dirk Nowitzki`s injury, and the injury plagued play of Kyle Lowry), there was one prominent item that captivated the Toronto sports news cycle before, during, and now after the game: Vince Carter.
Crybaby. Momma`s boy. There are many more adjectives that Raptors fans have used to describe VC over the years since his departure via trade. For the most part, whenever Carter came back to play against his former team, he was showered with boos. But these days tell a different story. In fact, Raptors fans have begun to slowly change how they view VC and his legacy as one of the best Raptors of all-time. If you’re skeptical about Carter and how he left combined with his behaviour on and off the court (e.g., going to his graduation instead of Game 7 playoff prep in 2001), a peek at the numbers help frame the renaissance of VC as one of the great Raps.
It is important to recognize that Vince is Top-5 in many major statistical categories all-time for the Toronto franchise, even though the team has only existed for two decades. He is second in total points, fourth in assists, fifth in total rebounds, third in steals, and second in blocks. That paints a pretty strong picture of a complete player. If you dive more deeply into the stats, especially the advanced stats, there is enough evidence that supports how invaluable VC was to Toronto.
Over the course of his seven seasons donning the purple and black, Carter’s true shooting percentage (a combination of 2pt, 3pt, and FT%) was 52.6%. That’s a very reliable shooter. In addition to his shooting, Vince was responsible for 21% of all assists while he was on the court. Coupled with his 9% turnovers per 100 possessions and you have a perennial all-star guard who scores efficiently, distributes when he needs to, and doesn’t turn the ball over a whole lot. But perhaps the most important stat for this conversation is his “win share”. Win share, like WAR in baseball, is an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player, both offensively and defensively (in the regular season). The stat can be broken down into O and D, but combined presents the complete picture. In those seven seasons, Carter’s win share was 47.7. That means Vince was directly responsible for nearly 48 wins all by himself. The peak of his win share was in the 2000-2001 season where he was responsible for 12.9 wins. And, even in that infamous game 7 playoff game against Allen Iverson’s 76ers squad where VC missed the potential game winning shot, his scoring line was most impressive at 20 points, 9 assists, and 7 boards. On the statistical side, there is no doubt Carter was a menace as a Raptor.
As the franchise looks to bring VC back into the fold and honour the legacy he left for basketball in Toronto and the entire country, it is important to let the petty disagreements in the past. He put Toronto on the map (and on TNT) and it wasn’t his fault that he was traded for pennies on the dollar. At the end of the day, it is important for organizations to share their history, their organizational culture, and the people that have left a legacy for the future. And as the new generation of DeMar DeRozan drops game highs on a nightly basis, it is important to bring back the impact players like Carter into the fold. If anything else, the stats prove his current renaissance in Raptors lore.
Photo Credit: Toronto Sports Media