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2015-2016 Memphis Grizzlies Player Preview: Vince Carter

Vince's value as a player is in steep decline, but let's not dig a grave for him yet.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

As Vince Carter enters year two of his three-year contract with the Grizzlies, it's time for us to wave goodbye to the dreams we had of him when he was acquired: that he still had a few high-flying years left in the tank, that the offseason ankle surgery was minor and not a portent of an injury-riddled season, or that even if everything else broke down — if Zach Randolph literally had to roll him onto the court in a wheel chair — Vince Carter would still, at least, be a reliable three-point threat.

From here on out, every productive game we get from Vince Carter should be considered a bonus, a small wink from the basketball gods as if to say, "Hey Vince. You're still the man."

The value we can count on from Vince Carter will come off the court. Or, more accurately, it will come on the court, but from other players — especially the rookies. Vince is as good a mentor as any young player could ask for, and it helps that he's an exceedingly good and likable person. He was runner-up to Tim Duncan in the 2015 Teammate of the Year award voting, and let's face it: that's like coming in second place to Santa Claus for the Best Holiday Gift Giver Award.

Vince may swear he has no coaching aspirations, but we know better. Why else would he hang around the Orlando Summer League to coach, mentor, and even cryotherapize the Grizzlies' rookies? He likes bringing his veteran knowledge and experience to the table for his teammates. It's his natural role and it suits his personality. He considers it his aging duty.

The Quantifiable

But he's not wearing a suit and St. Jude lapel pin just yet, so let's take a look at his numbers from the last two seasons.

Vince Carter 2013-15 Stats

Courtesy of stats.nba.com.

Vince never seemed to be at full strength last year, starting with an ankle injury that kept him out of training camp. He spent nearly as many minutes appearing as a guest on the TV broadcast as he did on the court, playing his second shortest season since 2003. And in the minutes he did get, his production dropped dramatically from the season prior in Dallas. His points per game shrank more than his attempts, and his three point percentage sunk into the high 20s. There's really no way to shine a positive light on that chart. And unfortunately, there's no reason to hope the percentages will improve, other than the faint glimmer of supposed good health.

The good news, from a personnel standpoint, is that Memphis can now afford for Carter to be the 10th or 11th best player on its roster. With the acquisition of Matt Barnes, the development of Jordan Adams, and the beating pulse (to the dismay of many) of Jeff Green, the Grizzlies now have a logjam at the wing position. I won't call it an embarrassment of riches, but more like a solid savings account, with Vince Carter acting as a 38 year-old emergency fund. Or rather, a maturing 401(K). He'll be a useful catch-all — in all-3-point lineups, as a defensive substitution, or as a break-glass-in-case-of-injury replacement — but he won't be able or be asked to be a load-bearing wall in the Grizzlies' offense.

The Upshot

Vince won't be gracing many highlight reels this season, sure. In fact, I think we should hope he doesn't see the floor more than 10-15 minutes per game. But you'll see his value on the sidelines. You'll see it in the coolness and confidence of our young guys. And as the current core ages out of title contention, that's an awfully big plus.