With the regular season rapidly approaching, the Atlanta Hawks have a lot of work to do in training camp that is considerably shorter than years past. This bucket list is extensive but crucial for the future of the franchise. Getting started, the Hawks have the challenge of getting not only the new draft picks acclimated with the normal nuances of NBA life, but they have to get the ENTIRE team acclimated to the new systems of new head coach Lloyd Pierce culture wise and mainly on defense.
With all of the new personnel and change that are attached to the Hawks this year and beyond, HawksHoop is taking the challenge of providing the access to the information that will help the Hawks fan understand that even though the team will struggle at times for the next few years, the path is the correct one if patience is practiced.Will this team contend for the NBA title? No. Will they be a playoff team? No. But if we all remember, Golden State was in this position years ago. The good thing here is the man that helped make the decisions, Travis Schlenk, is making the ultimate decisions here in Atlanta.
Let’s start breaking down the players going forward into the NBA season…
HawksHoop takes a look at...Vince Carter.
I’m a Vince Carter fan. So if this piece is a little bit overblown, I’m sorry. I cover the Atlanta Hawks but I’m a basketball fan first. It was before the NBA Slam Dunk championship where he took flight to heights never seen before. It was before the acrobatic dunks in Toronto. It was when he was in college when I saw him at the CIAA tournament in Winston Salem. He was standing next to his teammates, former All-Star Antawn Jamison, and Ademola Okuloja. I remember thinking…
Damn those are some big dudes!
That was before the turn of the millenium. It is 2018 and Vince Carter is STILL playing basketball in the NBA. He is going into his 21st season in the NBA. Incredible! Nobody lasts this long in the NBA without the benefit of being a seven footer unless they have a total understanding of how to play basketball and more importantly knowing what the business of basketball is all about by being a professional. Atlanta is bringing Vince Carter in to show Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, John Collins and the other newbies on the roster how to be professional NBA players and the nuances of how to get there. This is a franchise that needs to show these guys that the NBA is more than rolling the ball out and saying go play. Carter will show the preparation needed to get to the level of getting out on the floor to perform every night. Believe me these guys had better listen too. How old is Vince? Trae Young was not even on this earth when Carter started his NBA career. That is called longevity folks. Vince Carter brings instant credibility in the locker room to set the tone in the locker room. Lloyd Pierce will need a strong veteran voice to be that “sheriff” to keep things in line. Coaches cannot be the only voice throughout the season. For the young players to grow, the team needs that veteran that commands respect. Vince Carter is that guy.
I see two pretty good reasons why Vince Carter is playing in Atlanta for what I believe is his last year in the NBA. Number one, he will get a chance to play every night with all of the unproven talent that is on the roster. Will he? Most likely not, especially at the end of the season. His career could easily end on the inactive list. His marching orders will be to help the young roster on and off the floor and put them in positions to succeed and to learn.
Number two...NBA TV is calling. I see Vince with a headset and a computer in front of him calling games and analyzing the NBA. Instead of a tank top and shorts, I see a suit and tie in his future. (Hey Vince...if you get in hook a brother up please!) The NBA TV studios just happen to be in Atlanta. Coincidence? Umm no.
What does the Hawks need from Vince Carter...
Travis Schlenk’s way of doing things is all about the youth movement and player development. This means Hawks are not looking for Vince Carter to add 15 to 25 games to the win column. Vince is not in Atlanta for what he can do on the court. There’s nothing he can offer that anyone else on the Hawks bench can’t do. But none of those players can do the job as efficiently as Vince Carter. That’s what Vince will show them.
Carter’s resources extend way beyond what the fans will see on the court. In fact the majority of the things Carter does for this franchise may never be seen by fans on game night. For a first year head coach in Lloyd Pierce, Carter is the much needed liaison between the the coaches and the players making sure the message is understood across the board and everyone is on the same page. This will be important when the Hawks start to struggle to win games. A lot of these young players, especially Trae Young will have to adjust to losing and the hard road of a long NBA season. Going from roughly 30 games to a long 82 game season with losses piling up can be tough. It is known to many as the “Rookie Wall”.
How about Vince Carter’s attributes that can be used on the floor on game night? Well Vince Carter can still play, well enough I don’t have any issues putting the rent money up that he can still beat two-thirds of the Hawks roster. Nothing against this roster, it is very talented. But talent in the NBA is not enough to sustain a long career.Vince knows how to harness that talent. Remember, the man is 41 and he probably forgot more basketball than anyone in the organization besides Grant Hill, the Vice Chairman of the Hawks.
On the floor, Carter can be the extension of the coaching staff on the floor. A calming influence. I compare this situation to what Avery Johnson did at the end of his career in Dallas. He was basically semi-retired, but he was very involved with the coaches. Eventually when Don Nelson left the organization, Johnson took over. This is the role that would be perfect for Carter. He’s not going to be some hanger-on trying to stay in the league.
Look for Carter to point out the defensive assignments and rotations that you can’t expect young players to know fresh out of college. Carter’s wealth of experience needs to be put to good use by the Hawks early and often. Vince Carter did not join the Hawks to win a championship. He joined the team to give back to the game that he loves. Finally, he still has the ability to create match up problems by playing power forward when the Hawks go small. Sliding John Collins to the five spot could unleash a small team that could cause problems for a team on any given night.
This is a message to the millenials of the Hawks roster...I assume that if Vince Carter is rough on you and putting you through the paces in training camp, it will pass through your mind…”So what can you do that I can’t do?”
Okay. Vince relax let me take this one…
The 2000 Sydney Olympics. If these thoughts pass your mind, get your phone and Google Frederic Weis. You see he was the 7’2 dude that Carter JUMPED OVER AND SLAM DUNKED the ball. How impressive is this? He gave Weis a career. The New York Knicks actually drafted him in the NBA. The dunk is known as “The Dunk of Death”.
Vince Carter set a trend that it seems every NBA superstar is doing these days...
He is the first superstar to force a trade out of town. You see Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and now Jimmy Butler are doing that now and it seems like par for the course. Carter basically forced his way out of Toronto and got traded to New Jersey Nets and Jason Kidd. People remember LeBron James and the backlash from the decision. Many don’t remember what Carter went through going from fan favorite to villain. Pack this into your memory banks. For Vince Carter to overcome that and still be in the league as well as mend fences with the franchise he left, speaks to the credibility and respect that he has league wide. Plus it shows that Carter has seen it all and done it to the fullest.
Finally if anything else, the marketing department can team Vince Carter and Jeremy Lin and form a tag team…”The Sanity Brothers”! Vinsanity and Linsanity is a marketing dream! You heard it here first on HawksHoop.