There was once a time I saw a man leap over another man, a man much taller than he was, without effort. Never did I expect that man to play for my favorite basketball team.
Insert Vince Carter, the Grizzlies way of effortlessly replacing Mike Miller who seems dead set on reuniting with LeBron James in Miami. For the next three seasons, Carter will dawn Beale Street Blue for a price of ~$4 million a year and he's got the fan base talking. Despite being 37 years old, Carter has proven to have a lot in the tank.
Before doing a full breakdown of what Carter adds to the Grizzlies and how he does it, here are a few numbers that represent what Carter did as a Maverick last season and how it'll impact Memphis in the coming seasons:
When you lose Mike Miller, you’ve got to replace Miller’s production from three. And while he’s not as prolific a shooter as Miller was, Vince softens the blow. According to Synergy Sports, Carter shot 40.6% from three last season.
Why is this number important?
Because as a team, the Memphis Grizzlies finished 28th in spot-up three-point shooting (280-805; 34%). Sans Mike Miller, the Grizzlies attempted 633 spot-up three pointers, making only 202 (31%). That’s.. well, that’s bad, and as always, the Grizzlies current style of play is heavily affected by their ability to space the floor.
13.3 | .40
Marc Gasol injury be-damned, the Grizzlies are looking up in the Western Conference. Free agency is far from finish, but the West’s best four (San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles (C), Houston) are all steadily improving.
Luckily for Memphis, Carter performed well against the quartet last season, averaging a combined 13.3 points (40% from three) against them.
Following the season, there were few complaints that Mike Miller (and Courtney Lee!) didn’t shoot enough threes. That’s a touchy subject considering the Grizzlies relied on a healthy balance between their core offense players, but there’s truth to the complaint as well as some context-less misdirections. You won’t have that problem with Carter.
Last season, Vince Carter averaged 6.8 three-point attempts per-36 minutes. The highest amount per-36 for a Grizzlies in 2013-14? Mike Miller with 4.9. Is it overconfidence from Carter? Possibly. But one thing is for sure: there won't be any complaining about Carter not taking shots.
One thing Vince does much better than Mike? Drive the ball.
With Miller, it’s either an open three or two dribbles and a pass. That process doesn’t threaten the defense much. You want to encourage Miller to drive to the rim. That’s good defense: putting limited players in situations they’re limited at. With Carter, he poses a dual-threat of shooter/driver.
Last season, Carter finished second on the Mavericks in drives per game at 272 per NBA Stats. In comparison to the Grizzlies? Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 636, with Nick Calathes (234), James Johnson (175), Tony Allen (148) and Mike Miller (100). Since Rudy Gay’s departure, the Grizzlies have lacked a player who could infiltrate the teeth of the defense and cause fear in the process.
Shooting is Carter’s biggest niche at this point in his career, but his ability to drive the ball will do wonders for those around him.
How could such a minuscule number be important to Vince Carter x Memphis. Last season, Carter had 10 games where he made four or more threes. The Grizzlies as a whole? 13.
It's unclear if this is a factor of Memphis not having the players to make shots--they've struggled in this area--or if they lack players who feel comfortable launching from the three-point line--we've addressed this point a bit.
It could also be a bi-product of Memphis' offensive structure. This team, unfortunately, doesn't shoot a lot of threes (part talent, part offense). Last year, Memphis finished 30th out of 30 teams in three-point attempts per game (14.1). Typically the team that shoots the most threes make the most. Carter's presence and willingness to shoot the ball among with Dave Joerger's continuing restructure of the offense could lead to more 4+ three-pointer made games.
We all know Memphis needs it.
*Statistics via Basketball-Reference, Synergy Sports, and NBA.com