When Sunday arrived and the Orlando Magic faced off against the Charlotte Bobcats in Game 1, it was generally assumed that Vince Carter was going to do what he’s been doing for the past few months. What’s that?
Play good basketball.
It’s no coincidence that the Magic took off in the second half of the regular season and performed — statistically, at least — like the best team in the NBA, in large part because Carter had settled in comfortably as the No. 2 option alongside Dwight Howard. Carter dominated games for stretches at a time (see his 48-point performance against the New Orleans Hornets), performed efficiently, and played exactly the way everyone envisioned he would play when he was acquired in the off-season by general manager Otis Smith. By contrast, when Carter struggled in January, it was because he settled for jumpers, played passively, and generally looked out of sorts.
So, when Orlando needed offense from someone not named Rashard Lewis or Jameer Nelson, especially in the second half, Carter tried to pick up the slack but the results weren’t pretty. To be frank, they were downright awful.
The question that many people are asking, of course, is why did Carter struggle on offense? What did Carter do wrong?
Not a whole lot.
That may be surprising to read but it’s the truth.
There’s a lot of misses and not a lot of makes in this shot chart but looking at it tells only part of the story. Yeah, Carter didn’t connect on a ton of jumpers but the question that really needs to be asked is whether or not he took good shots? Let’s take a look at Carter’s shot selection, shall we?
A vast majority of Carter’s shots were quality looks. Granted, there were some possessions when Carter should have attacked the basket (as he did a few times in the game, looking to draw contact and get to the free-throw line) when he was matched up against Boris Diaw on a switch instead of settling for jumpers and making life more difficult for himself but those situations were, surprisingly, few and far between. Also, it should be taken into account that there were a couple of times when Carter was given the basketball with the shot clock winding down and forced to put up some high degree of difficulty shots, which did nothing but exacerbate his inability to make a shot and further hurt his stat-line.
It’s easy for someone to look at the box score, notice that Carter attempted and missed a lot of shots, and come away with the opinion that he played poorly. And Carter did play bad, let’s not lose sight off that fact. However, given the type of shots Carter attempted, it becomes clear as to why head coach Stan Van Gundy isn’t worried too much. Van Gundy went even as far as to suggest that he wouldn’t mind if Carter took the exact same shots he attempted in Game 1 because he probably would make a majority of them the next time around. Statisticians in sports always talk about players regressing to the mean, in which they post an outlier on either side of the spectrum and this is a prime example of that. Carter is too good of a shooter to go 4-of-19 from the field with the type of shots he took, even if it was against the best defensive team in the league like Charlotte. In the end, the averages should even out.
Via Synergy Sports Technology:
|2009-2010 regular season||Time||Poss.||PPP*||Rank||Rating|
|P&R Ball Handler||39.3%||486||0.95||85%||Excellent|
|Game 1 vs. Charlotte Bobcats||Trans||Post-Up||P/R BH||ISO||Spot-Up|
|Number of Possessions||1||3||7||4||3|
*points per possession
**one of Carter’s field goals did not have a play type
Don’t be surprised if Carter bounces back and has a good game for the Magic in Game 2, especially if he gets the same type of shots he got in Game 1.
That’s something to look out for tomorrow night.