The Brooklyn Nets look to end their 12 game losing-streak against the Memphis Grizzlies. Brooklyn continues to search for answers, experimenting with lineups and building a culture. While Brooklyn looks to move forward, a ghost from their New Jersey past returns to haunt them.
Former New Jersey star Vince Carter is 40-years-old and has played 48 games this season and he is averaging eight points, three rebounds and about two assists in 24 minutes off the bench for the Memphis Grizzlies.
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Carter is still a valuable player in the NBA, and absolutely a future Hall of Fame inductee. The 9-45 Brooklyn Nets are far removed from the glory days in New Jersey when Jason Kidd was throwing lobs to one of the greatest in-game dunkers ever.
New Jersey acquired Vinsanity from the Toronto Raptors just 20 games into the 2004-2005 season. Carter made an immediate impact and quickly showcased why he was one of the best players in the league. In the 20 games he played for Toronto, he was averaging a (then) career low 15.9 points. Once he was paired with Kidd, his scoring sky-rocketed to 27.5 points per game and career highs in both rebounds (5.9) and assists (4.7).
In the 2005-2006 season, Carter and Kidd would lead New Jersey to an Atlantic Division title and the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Carter would average 24.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists for the season. He didn’t slow down in the playoffs either, as he averaged 29.6 points, seven rebounds and 5.3 assists in 11 postseason games.
Carter would start all 82 games in 2006-2007. His scoring improved to 25.2 points per game while he averaged a career high six rebounds for the season. His postseason was much more modest in comparison to his previous playoff performance, averaging 22.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 12 games before New Jersey was eliminated.
2006-2007 would be Carter’s final postseason in New Jersey. The following season, the Nets would trade their floor general, shipping Kidd to Dallas. Carter was re-signed in the offseason and was slated to be the Nets’ captain moving forward as they attempted to rebuild, but remain competitive. Carter still put up a respectable 21 points, six rebounds and five assists, but failed to lift the Nets into the postseason.
In his final season in New Jersey, Carter still averaged 20.8 points, five rebounds and 4.7 assists, all while mentoring Devin Harris and rookie Brook Lopez, both of whom would eventually be All Stars. Even though Carter was still without a doubt a top-tier shooting guard in the league, he was also on the decline and would eventually be traded to his hometown Orlando Magic during the 2009 NBA draft.
Carter’s run in New Jersey is something fans will always have. When Carter was on the team, expectations were high. That’s a testament to how great Carter was. The Carter-Kidd duo especially, is one of those “what-if” teams. By the time he was captain in New Jersey, he was expected to make the playoffs with the likes of Lopez, Harris and Yi Jianlian.