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VC Rising

Vince Carter will be 29 next month, around the time when players who rely mostly on athleticism start to decline. Yet, with the exception of a few games at the beginning of this season, he is playing the best basketball of his career right now. Too bad for all those pundits--and even some Net fans--who suggested last year that he was past his prime. Instead, he has just begun to reach it!

In the first 82 games Carter has played with the Nets--ending with last night's 51-point explosion--he is averaging:

--26.5 points per game--3.0 above his career average;

--5.9 rebounds per game--0.6 above his career average;

--4.4 assists per game--0.4 above his career average;

He is shooting:

--46.1% overall compared to a career average of 44.8%;

--41.4% from beyond the arc, compared to a career average of 38.9%;

--82.9%, from the free throw stripe, compared to a career average of 79.3%.

He is also averaging 6.8 free throws a game, compared to 5.8 for his career.

If his 82 games as a Net were a full season, it would have to be considered his overall best season. His single season highs are 27.5 ppg in 2000-01; 5.8 rpg in 1999-00; 4.8 apg in 2003-04; 46.7% overall in 2002-03; 40.8% from beyond the arc in 2000-01; and 80.6% from the free throw stripe in 2003-04. His best year for free throw attempts was 1999-01, at 6.7. And of course, his career high game is 51, which he has accomplished twice, once on February 27, 2000, while a Raptor and again on Friday night as a Net.

And while he has averaged 67 games per season with the Raptors, he has missed only one game with the Nets, one fewer than 1999-00, when he played all 82 games.

As Lawrence Frank said, "We're extremely happy that Vince Carter is a New Jersey Net."