March 26, 2020, 11:41 am
In 1998, Vince Carter’s career debut was delayed because of a lockout-shortened season. Now, 22 years later, his career could end abruptly as we are on the brink of another abbreviated season with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the entire sports world to a screeching halt.
Shortly after the NBA had announced the season would be suspended indefinitely, Carter was in the middle of what could be his final appearance as a professional and drilled a 3-pointer in the final seconds of an overtime loss. Postgame, with the future of the league in limbo, Carter described how he will look back on that night stating, “Golly, this is weird, man.” A weird ending to a brilliant career, indeed.
The future Hall-of-Famer did not get the farewell tour we have become accustomed to seeing with other high-profile veterans leaving the game recently, but his career accolades, fantasy prowess, and lasting effect on the Canadian basketball scene deserves praise.
The 5th overall pick in the ’98 draft was thrown into an unenviable situation in Toronto. In their brief three-season history the franchise finished last in the division every year and had yet to finish better than 12th in the conference. They played home games a makeshift court constructed in the Skydome, the home of the Blue Jays, Toronto’s Major League Baseball team. At the time, there was no excitement surrounding the team and Toronto was far from the rabid fanbase that flocks to “Jurassic Park” we know of today.
Right out of the gate, Carter gave fans a glimpse of what to expect for the years to come by catching a lob from Charles Oakley on his way to 16 points in his NBA debut. The highlight reel plays continued throughout the season and “Vinsanity” was born. He ended up running away with the Rookie of the Year, cashing in on 113 of the 118 possible votes. His season line of 18.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.5 blocks were numbers that only one rookie had ever posted prior, Alvan Adams in 1976.
The team increased their win total by 7, from 16 to 23, in 32 fewer games, giving them the highest win percentage in franchise history at .460. Although they narrowly missed the playoffs, Carter’s effect on both ends of the floor was evident.
The following season Carter ascended into stardom. He began to put up gaudy scoring numbers, finishing the year 4th in the league with 25.7 points per game, including his first career 50-point performance.
Before making All-NBA Third Team, he earned his first All-Star selection and put on a show during All-Star Weekend with what is widely regarded as one of the best Dunk Contest performances of all time. “Half-Man, Half-Amazing” had solidified himself as one of the best players in the league, and one of the most exciting dunkers in the history of the game, combining power and acrobatics when throwing it down.
On his shoulders the team rolled on to 45 wins and secured the first playoff berth in franchise history before eventually being swept in the first round. The high-flying continued in the summer for Carter when he led the USA National team in scoring, at 14.8 points per game, on their way to a gold medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Carter put the finishing touches on a perfect 8-0 tournament with a dunk over 7’2” Frédéric Weis. He literally leaped over the French center and former NBA first-round pick, creating one of the most memorable moments in Team USA Basketball history.
Everything came together for Vince and the Raptors during the 2000-01 season. The team increased their win total once again, capturing 47 victories, while finishing top-10 in both total points per game and offensive rating behind a career high 27.6 points per game from Carter, who ended the season 5th on the scoring list. Proving he could do it all on the offensive end, he posted career highs in 3-pointers made and attempted, while hitting them at a career best 40.8%.
The squad got revenge by returning the favor to the Knicks who had knocked them out of playoffs in the first round just a season before. The second round was an incredible faceoff against the league MVP, Allen Iverson, in which A.I. and Carter dueled all the way until the final seconds of Game 7, where Carter missed a midrange jumper that would have sent the Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals. Carter finished the series dropping 30.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.0 blocks a game.
Carter’s Game 3 performance was the best the franchise had ever seen to that point, as he lit the Sixers up for 50 points, including nine made 3s, on the way to a 24-point victory. This was as close as Carter’s Raptors would ever get to the pinnacle as they were bounced from the playoffs in the first round the following year and finished below .500 in his two final seasons with the club.
After the 2001 playoffs Carter’s production slipped slightly although he was named an All-Star each of the following three seasons. Injuries and friction with the front office ended with a midseason trade to New Jersey, as the relationship between Carter and Toronto had soured.
After leaving Toronto with the stigma that he gave up on the team and did not play through injuries he only missed 11 games in his 4 full seasons with the Nets. Paired with Jason Kidd, he averaged 23.6 points per game and lead the team to three straight playoff appearances.
Shortly after being defeated in the 2009 Finals, Orlando needed perimeter offense and traded for Carter and Ryan Anderson. At 33 Carter lacked the explosiveness he once used to dominate defenders but was still a viable outside player as he was a key cog in Orlando’s 2010 Eastern Conference Finals run.
The following year he was dealt again and headed to Phoenix in a six-player trade. He started 41 games for the Suns and scored 13.5 points per game but at this point was a shell of himself athletically and was shooting nearly 40% of his shots from deep.
After being waived by Phoenix he signed with Dallas and eventually settled into a bench rotation role, averaging 12 points in 25 minutes a game with the Mavs. At this point in his career, a 38-year-old Carter could have called it a day, and no one would have been surprised.
Instead he secured a multi-year deal with Memphis and averaged 6 shots off the bench each night. After a year in Sacramento, he finished out his final two years in Atlanta, coming off the end of the bench each night.
For the last five years of his career Carter has just been hanging around, and almost useless from a fantasy perspective, making it easy to forget his early career dominance and overall longevity in the fantasy world. As a neophyte he was top-40 in both 8- and 9-cat on a per-game basis, putting up equivalents to current day Robert Covington’s defensive numbers, paired with Tobias Harris’ offensive stats. He followed up that campaign with a dominant sophomore season, ranking 5th and 10th in 9-cat and 8-cat respectively. The 3-point makes, and percentages jump put him into top-tier fantasy player standing.
Year three was his fantasy peak, finishing the year 3rd in 8-cat, behind only Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen, and 2nd in 9-cat where he trailed only Allen. In the modern era we are spoiled with the all-around play of LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo but in 2001 there were not any players in the league providing the production in every facet of the game like Carter was.
At the time Carter and Allen were the only two players in the league making over two 3-point shots a game, while shooting at least 40% from deep. While Allen had Carter beat in all three percentage categories, he did not have the overall scoring or defensive numbers Carter was posting.
In the subsequent years Carter came back to earth but still held third-round value in both 8- and 9-cat for the next eight seasons. A legendary fantasy run did not come to an end there. After being dealt to Orlando and finding his new role he held top-120 status four of the next five years.
To many, Vince put Toronto on the map in the basketball world. He gave everyone a taste of what was happening up North in the 2000 Dunk Contest and shortly thereafter followed it up with a 50-point performance in the franchise’s first ever nationally televised game. The All-Star seasons and playoff runs that followed brought an excitement for basketball the hockey-heavy city had not previously experienced.
Carter has stayed in the league long enough to witness the effect he had on Canadian basketball firsthand. Since 1946 there have been 49 Canadian-born players to play in the NBA, 22 of which are current players. R.J. Barrett, one of those Canadians, coincidently lined up next to Carter during a free throw in the final seconds of the veteran’s presumptive final NBA appearance. The influx of young Canadian players in the NBA can be directly connected to Carter as they are all within the age group to have grown up during the Vinsanity era.
Toronto especially has become a hotbed of basketball talent, producing players such as Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph, Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Olynyk, all of whom have credited Carter with forwarding their love of the game. Not to mention the next wave of players including Barrett, Jamal Murray and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, among others.
Although the eight-time All-Star never made an NBA Finals or finished better than 11th in MVP voting, he provided us with a career that touched four decades full of dominant performances and highlight-reel plays that will last forever.
March 27, 2020, 8:36 pmKillian HayesSG, International
Killian Hayes, a highly touted 18-year old point guard who has played three years professionally in France and Germany, has declared for the 2020 NBA draft after submitting the paperwork to the NBA league office.
Measuring in at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, Hayes has been on scouts' radars for quite some time after riding some very impressive YouTube highlight videos to prospect relevancy. In his most recent season, with ratiopharm Ulm in Germany, Hayes averaged 12.8 PTS, 6.2 AST, 2.3 REB and 1.5 STL while seeing his NBA draft stock rise as a result. He is a very talented shooter and it is seemingly more and more likely that Hayes will see his name called in the lottery when draft night arrives.
March 27, 2020, 8:24 pmPatrick WilliamsSF, College
Patrick Williams, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound small forward out of Florida State, has declared for the 2020 NBA draft after a shortened freshman season off the bench, averaging 9.2 PTS, 4.0 REB and 1.0 AST while not starting a single game for a deep Seminoles squad.
The intriguing aspect of Williams' draft aspirations lies in his dimensions; particularly his 7-foot wingspan. He had modest numbers but that can largely be attributed to how deep their rotation was in 2019-20, similar to fellow 'Nole Devin Vassell, who also declared for the draft recently. Williams has incredible athleticism and has made himself into an intriguing prospect who could find himself landing in the first round if his draft stock maintains momentum.
Source: Patrick Williams on Twitter
March 27, 2020, 12:14 pmRudy GobertC, Utah Jazz
The Utah Department of Health has cleared both Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, meaning they no longer pose a risk of infection to others.
Both Gobert and Mitchell tested positive for COVID-19, and although Gobert mentioned that he briefly lost his senses of taste and smell, the duo seems to be fully recovered. This is great news as we wait for word on when or if the NBA season will be able to continue.
Source: Tim Bontemps on Twitter
March 26, 2020, 4:11 pmReggie BullockSG-SF, New York Knicks
Reggie Bullock will likely return to the Knicks for another season, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.
If the Knicks chose not to bring back Bullock for next year, the team would suffer a $1M cap hit. That means that bringing him back for another season will only have a cap hit of $3.2M. That amount is only 2 percent of the projected salary cap for next season. The Knicks appear to be focused on creating cap flexibility for future years in the hopes that they can land some big-name free agents. Continue to monitor this situation as it develops but it appears likely that Bullock will be in a Knicks uniform for at least one more season.
Source: The New York Post
March 26, 2020, 3:57 pmDamyean DotsonSG, New York Knicks
According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Damyean Dotson's time with the Knicks could come to an end after this season and the Jazz, Bucks and Warriors are among the teams that are expected to have interest in signing Dotson for the 2020-21 campaign.
Dotson saw his role with the Knicks evaporate towards the end of the season as he received a DNP-CD for eight of the Knicks' final nine contests. Interim head coach, Mike Miller, chose to play veterans Wayne Ellington and Reggie Bullock over the 25-year-old that they drafted in the second round of the 2017 draft. Dotson will look to land in a situation that will give him a more consistent role as a three-and-D wing as he enters his fourth season in the association.
Source: The New York Post
March 25, 2020, 11:12 pmMalik FittsSF, College
Malik Fitts announced on Twitter that he is declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft.
Fitts was the second leading scorer for a Saint Marys' team that was top-10 in offensive efficiency. He averaged 16.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals while shooting .472 from the field and .408 from beyond the arc. Fitts is an under-the-radar draft prospect who will likely be a second-round pick at best. He is likely to have a limited role if he makes an NBA roster next season, but his 3-point efficiency and steals are two fantasy skills that translate well from college to the pros. He could be a threes and steals specialist if he gets minutes in the upper-20s.
Source: Malik Fitts on Twitter
March 25, 2020, 9:11 pmJae CrowderPF, Miami Heat
Jae Crowder said that Miami "felt like home" and he always wanted to play for the Heat.
Crowder is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and he is making it clear that he would prefer to remain in a Heat uniform next season. Crowder has played 28.7 minutes per game as a member of the Heat and has posted top-80 value during that stretch. Despite his great play so far in Miami he will likely fall into a more reduced role next season if he were to return. Crowder's best outcome for his fantasy value would be to sign with a rebuilding team where he can play big minutes as a veteran, similar to his role in Memphis this season.
Source: Anthony Chiang on Twitter
March 25, 2020, 6:37 pmChristian WoodPF, Detroit Pistons
Christian Wood has fully recovered from the coronavirus, according to James Edwards III.
Wood only showed the mildest of symptoms prior to the NBA season being suspended two weeks ago. The NBA has chosen to suspend play in the hopes that the virus will not spread as quickly. It is still unclear when the NBA will resume or if they will even play out the rest of the regular season. However, it is a good sign to see people recovering from the virus and the hope is that we stop seeing players who contract the illness.
Source: James Edwards III on Twitter
March 25, 2020, 3:54 pmJohn WallPG, Washington Wizards
Candace Buckner of the Washington Post reported that John Wall (left Achilles) will not return for the remainder of the 2019-20 season despite the hiatus.
Wall has missed all of the 2019-20 season so far and was only able to play in 73 games over the prior two seasons due to a variety of injuries. The Wizards' GM, Tommy Sheppard, told Buckner in an interview regarding Wall's availability going forward, “We’re very anxious to see John Wall in uniform next year. I don’t think any of this changes that.” We'll have to wait until next season to see Wall return to the court even when/if the NBA season resumes later on this calendar year.
Source: The Washington Post
March 24, 2020, 11:37 pmKenyon Martin Jr.PF, College
Kenyon Martin Jr., forward from IMG Academy, has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft.
You guessed it, Kenyon Martin Jr. is the son of 2000 NBA Draft first pick Kenyon Martin Sr. He is eligible for draft after a year at IMG since he graduated from Sierra Canyon High School a year ago. Martin had committed to Vanderbilt last May before heading to IMG Academy. This year's draft order looks to be more unpredictable than most, so based on Martin's athleticism and pedigree, he has a shot to make some noise on draft night.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter