Dallas Mavericks swingman Vince Carter may be 37 years old, but he’s proving on a nightly basis that age is indeed nothing but a number. Carter is coming off the bench to average 12 points per game for the Mavericks in the 16th season of his career.
Carter may be an eight-time All-Star, but he willingly accepted his role as the Mavericks primary scoring option coming off the bench when he joined the team in 2011. He had big shoes to fill when Jason Terry left via free agency following the Mavericks 2011 championship season.
It’s common for players to have reservations about coming off the bench when they have achieved the level of individual success that Carter has enjoyed. The Mavericks were wise to ensure that all lines of communication were open between their front office and coaching staff when Carter was signed to ensure all parties were satisfied with his role.
It’s easy to smile and say the right things when you are signing a contract in the offseason, but when you have been a starter your entire career it is not always easy to adjust to coming off the bench. Carter said the right things in the offseason when he signed his contract with the Mavs and he has been the consummate teammate during his tenure in Dallas.
The Mavericks bench has become one of the most effective units in the NBA, contributing the fourth-most points per game since the All-Star break. While point guard Devin Harris and forward Brandan Wright have been key contributers, Carter is the Mavericks’ No. 1 scoring option coming off the bench. Carter may not be the high flying, athletic guard that he was during in his prime, but he has developed into a more effective perimeter scorer when the opportunity presents itself.
The numbers don’t lie when it comes to the importance of Carter’s production. When Carter connects on two or more three-pointers, the Mavericks are 21-11. When Dallas hits on more three-pointers than their opponent, they are 26-7. Carter’s ability to stretch out the opposing defense is critical to the success of the Dallas second unit.
The Mavericks are fortunate to have an accomplished scorer like Carter on their bench. Carter recently eclipsed the 23,000 point mark, a feat that only 26 other players in NBA history have accomplished.
If the Mavericks are able to secure a playoff berth, Carter’s experience should pay dividends. Carter has averaged 22 points per game in the 60 playoffs games that he has been a part of. This level of experience Carter brings will be valuable if Dallas finds itself in the middle of a tight playoff series.
The Mavericks will be looking to pull off an upset in the first round of the NBA playoffs and they will need their bench to step up if they want to send a team like the San Antonio Spurs or the Oklahoma City Thunder packing early. For the Mavericks’ bench to succeed, Vince Carter will once again be counted on to bring a consistent scoring punch off the bench.