I am envious of Vince Carter at age almost-40.
Not that I would trade being myself at age 22 for being Vince Carter at age almost-40 (for the sake of sentence structure just go with this, but that would actually be an incredibly difficult decision), but I’m 1000 percent certain that at age almost-40 I will be dying to be Vince Carter at age almost-40.
Not only is he youthfully energetic and agile for a man his age, but he’s also looking youthfully energetic and agile compared to peers who are all younger than him, a few of whom are less than half his age. That’s pretty remarkable.
Here’s a thing you may not have known: there are only ten players in their age 40 seasons to have posted a win shares per 48 minutes mark of .100 or better according to Basketball Reference. Win shares per 48 minutes tries to calculate roughly what percentage of a team’s wins were contributed by individual players in a 48 minute regulation game. The league average is about .100, so that means that Carter is basically an average player in the league, which is nothing to write home about...
BUT, only nine other players his age or older have ever produced at or above the league average mark in that category, and two of those players played less than 50 minutes in their age 40 or older seasons. So really, Carter is one of EIGHT players 40 or older to put up average or above average numbers across the board.
Look at the names on that list! Stockton, Malone, Mutombo, Abdul-Jabbar, Parish... and Carter.
Vince is having unquestionably the best season of his Grizzlies career, averaging the most points, rebounds, and assists on the best field goal percentage of his three years in Memphis. And his advanced numbers hold that statement to be true as well.
For example, though Carter has been shooting well on a career high three point attempt rate (60.8 percent of all his shots are triples), his main impact has been on the defensive end. He has amassed more defensive than offensive win shares, and has a higher defensive box plus/minus than its offensive counterpart. You don’t need to know what win shares or box plus/minus are to understand that they both agree he’s been better defensively than offensively this season.
Additionally, Carter is clearing rebounds at a career high rate on the defensive glass, nabbing almost 15 percent of all available defensive rebounds when he’s on the floor. Some of these rebounds are lucky bounces, but for the most part Carter is in position on the defensive end, especially in the corners, to grab a rebound if it comes his way.
Here’s a typical Carter rebound:
There are a few things to note there. First, watch how he finds his man, Matt Barnes, and puts a body on him to box him out. Next, notice how as soon as he grabs the rebound, Carter’s looking for a quick outlet opportunity. He shakes off Andrew Harrison at first, surveying the floor and opting not to pass to Troy Daniels before relinquishing a safe pass back to Harrison.
He does all the same things here on an early rebound against the Cavs.
Again, he turns to look for a man to box out (even though Mike Dunleavy Jr. is retreating) as he judges the shot long AND looks for a quick transition opportunity before finding the nominal ball handler in Toney Douglas.
Carter’s good health, something he hasn’t fully enjoyed while in Memphis, has allowed him to play at a sustainably efficient level in this the third and final year of his contract. Though his trade value may never be higher as a Grizzly, the team should consider re-signing him in the offseason if not as a player, then as a coach.
Vinsanity is still still throwing down dunks, still playing efficiently, still adding value to an NBA basketball team, and still playing like he’s half his age. In other words: he’s still half amazing.