NBA, The NBA's 30 Best Go-To Players / Oct 14, 2009 / 3:15 pm

The NBA’s 30 best go-to players (#11: Vince Carter)

Vince Carter

Who do you want your offense to run through with everything on the line? Counting down 30th to 1st (one per team), I’ve ranked the League’s go-to guys…

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#11: VINCE CARTER, Orlando Magic

Back in July, when he was introduced as a member of the Magic, Carter said he doesn’t desire to be the face nor the focal point of his new team.

“I just want to help make (Orlando) better. (Dwight Howard) can be the face all he wants,” VC said. “My concern is more so just getting wins. I kind of leave that for people to say or debate on. I think for me, it’s ‘Can Vince come in and do his part for the Orlando Magic?’ That’s more so my goal.”

He’s right. Then in September, coach Stan Van Gundy clarified VC’s role.

“My guess going into the season is that at the end of the game, he’s the guy you go to most of the time because of his ability to create a shot either for himself or for the team,” Van Gundy said.

He’s also right. Carter is in a unique position where he’s not the centerpiece of his franchise or its best player — that would of course be Dwight Howard — but he fits the definition of the classic go-to guy. And that’s as much due to Dwight’s unreliable free-throw shooting and limited scoring skills as it is a credit to Vince’s abilities as one of the best scorers and clutch performers in the NBA.

Two months before the Magic were ousted from the ’09 Finals, I said Carter was the player who could get them over the hump as a real championship team:

One glaring reason is the lack of a go-to perimeter scorer to take over at the end of a game. Dwight’s immature post game and poor free-throw shooting means Orlando’s best player isn’t their best crunch-time option, hence the trickle-down effect: Hedo is a second option play-acting as an alpha dog, Jameer and Rashard are third options pretending to be second options, etc. Sometimes it works, but it’s not a championship recipe; imagine Portland having Travis Outlaw as their go-to clutch scorer instead of Brandon Roy and you get the idea.

Last season, Carter averaged 20.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists, falling just short of the 20-5-5 benchmark he reached in ’07-08 and putting himself in a small class of players who put up those kind of all-around numbers. In Orlando’s three-happy system, his rebounding could drop and his scoring could rise, but his most important addition to this roster is that — when all else fails — he’s the guy you can run a clear-out for and get something out of it, whether it’s a trip to the line, a dunk for Dwight, an open jumper for Rashard or Jameer, or a bucket for Vince. When things slow down as the game becomes nip-and-tuck, you need those kinds of creators.

Perhaps the most standout clutch stat for Carter is that he shot 50% from the field in “clutch time” last year, 50% on threes, and 85% at the line; by definition, he raises his game when it matters most. He’s one of those players who can score 12 points all night on 4-of-16 shooting, but turns it on and gets the most important bucket or makes the most important play at the end of the day.

You can replay the 30-foot game-winner on Atlanta (forget the shot, check the calmness from VC), but I have to go back to last year’s assassin’s display in Toronto. On his way to putting up 39 points, nine rebounds, six assists and just one turnover, VC forced overtime with a last-second three and won the game with a backwards dunk off an alley-oop. And this was in front of a crowd that was viciously booing him whenever he blinked. It was right up there with Kobe‘s 61 and B-Roy’s 52 as one of the coldest single-game efforts of the season. In fact, if one of those two had done it in that fashion in that kind of atmosphere, they’d have a holiday named after them.

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12. Joe Johnson
13. Danny Granger
14. Steve Nash
15. Kevin Durant
16. Gilbert Arenas
17. Derrick Rose
18. Chris Bosh
19. Andre Iguodala
20. Tracy McGrady
21. Baron Davis
22. Michael Redd
23. Devin Harris
24. Kevin Martin
25. Al Jefferson
26. O.J. Mayo
27. Stephen Jackson
28. Nate Robinson
29. Boris Diaw
30. Rip Hamilton

* Follow Austin Burton on Twitter: @AustinatDIMEmag
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  • Detroit Dave

    Not better in the clutch than:
    Joe Johnson
    Steve Nash
    Gilbert Arenas
    Stephen Jackson
    Danny Granger……

    Dime are yall serious. How can he be rated higher than Devin Harris? Vince Carters shot selection is just as bad as Corey Maggettes the only difference is that he makes a few lucky ones here and there.

  • dial up

    Vince is a beast. Ex: see the magic play toronto this season.

  • control

    Didn’t you say in Toronto’s go-to player article that you couldn’t use someone who hasn’t even played a real game for their new team as the go-to player?

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    @control — No. I did say that I’m going with the player who begins the season as the go-to guy rather than predicting who will end the season as the go-to guy (why Rip was picked ahead of BG in Detroit), so SVG’s comment led me to take Vince for Orlando.

  • Gnasche

    What makes VC a top clutch performer is that he isn’t fazed by the previous three shots he bricked.

    @control: It looks like “the cynic” said that in the comments.

  • Bizz

    @1, You’re smoking some really strong stuff. Carter is far better as a go to guy than ANY of the guys you mentioned. As much as Toronto hates VC, half their hate stems from the fact he left the Raptors, regained some of his all-star form, became more injury resistant (as in not missing games) and still had the ice-cold blood in his veins during crunch time. This guy bombs 3’s from 30 feet out like casual jumpers and buries them with the game on the line. He’s almost a diet version of Kobe, which is definitely worth of top 10-11 status. Stephen Jackson?! LMAO you lost all credibility with even comparing VC to Captain Jack-Ass.

    @3, Even if DIME said it (and if they did, I agree with you on the merit of disqualfying VC on that basis), the difference between CB4/Turk and D-12/VC is Toronto will give Bosh or Hedo the ball, Orlando tries to avoid giving it to Howard as much as they can in crunch time just to avoid “Slap-A-Superman”. And technically, VC has played pre-season games with Orlando. Preseason games aren’t fake games, they’re just exhibition games with no influence on regular season standings.

  • control


    Sorry, was too lazy to go back and read it. Good enough reasoning for me.

    Detroit Dave

    I didn’t even notice you said VC was like Corey Mags. Damn man, you couldn’t be any more off point with that statement. Only way Corey has VC beat is “Bad Porn” is a much trendier nickname than “Air Canada”.

    You can say Vince is better than Devin, very easily based on the fact they were just on the same team and Vince was the one lifting the heavy weights in crunch time.

    Stephan Jackson is more clutch than VC? For the other team maybe, come on man, serious? A zero all star headcase who deals drugs and looks like a ghetto smurf is better than a guy who has won more games than Stephan Jackson has 30 point games?

    Only guy on your list that is almost valid is Steve Nash, because I think he should be a lot higher on that list. Guy always comes through with something.


    I agree with ya, cept preseason games ain’t shit. They aren’t fake games, but they sure as fuck ain’t real games. Ain’t no real games you see with stars out with “DNP-tired” and “DNP-giving groupie some dick”. Those stars would be out playing the real games in those situations.

  • Big Sia

    #1 is a complete retard along with all the other haters.

    In actuality I think VC is still underrated on this list but I APPLAUDE dime for rating half-man this high at least.

    Look at the numbers. Look at the clutch-time stats. Look at the game winners. 82games.com counted them. Look it up.

    Vince is the illest clutch shooter in the eastern conference

  • sweetv0mit

    i live in d jersey shore and has seen a good amount of nets games… i thought pre-nets carter was an overrated “clutch” performer but watching him do what he does made me change my mind…. he’s very much an underrated “clutch” performer

  • Rizwan

    Your reason for having VC is good enough – if his coach said hes the go to player, then so he is. But, for me he hasnt done enough to justify being ahead of Steve Nash definitely and also Gilbert Arenas. I’m a huge fan of Gilbert and he is treated quite shabbily here. Remember his game tying three against Cleveland in 2006 playoffs? Deep three as well. He has made a habit of it!

    I like VC, he’s clutch but not more so than Steve Nash, who has led his team further in the season.

    Austin, you have really surprised with me with the order of this list not the participants. VC should be below Gilbert and Steve Nash.

  • Ian

    good ranking for him i think only nash deserves to be higher. vinces game vs toronto was the most impressive performance of the season.

  • the cynic

    Nelson is the Magic’s go-to player until VC plays at least a game for the Magic. Your logic is retarded Austin; because Stan Van Gundy made one statement in the hundred retard questions asked by fat white dudes who have never even picked up a basketball. Nelson was the go-to player until he got hurt last year. I’m sure everyone on the Magic is thinking “Oh yeah we have our go to guy now”

    And no one thinks Chris Bosh is going to be the go-to player down the stretch over Turk. There are so many contradictions throughout all these articles; its getting ridiculous

    VC is a good choice for #11 if you showed any consistency in your arguments

  • sh!tfaced

    What about the other countdown?

    Bring back The Top 50 Sneaker Stores countdown.

    At least that countdown won’t have an obvious and predictable number 1. LOL.

  • LakeShow84


    Look at that list and tell me what the hell it really means when Nate Robinson was is ranked more clutch than Dirk??

    And this is the site most you cats swear by?? Crawford over Rip?? maybe 04-05 Crawford not 08-09 Crawford.. HELLA WACK..


    i cant belive i’ve heard peeps jock this site so much.. you guys really believe Speights, MAGGETTE (man this gets funnier by the second), TJ FORD are more clutch than Duncan, Turoglu OR Durant?? Like i said you can crunch #’s to mean anything..

    So what if you score 10pts in the final 5 minutes but u miss 2 game tying FT’s in the final seconds?? For all the clutch points that wack ass site just gave you, you cost your team the game BECAUSE.. YOU.. WERENT.. CLUTCH..

  • LakeShow84

    And Vince is far from clutch..

    Taking an off balance 3 from 30ft out is not a good “clutch” shot.. its a prayer.. and prayers are answered every now and then..

    evidenced by the fact Vince hits one of those game winners a year.. unless hes playing weak ass Toronto and they give up THE LOB lol..

  • bakedbeing

    Lakeshow, read the whole article some time. You give one example of a shot you might have seen him take during clutch time which you thought was ugly and want to hold that above “he shot 50% from the field in “clutch time” last year, 50% on threes, and 85% at the line” ??

    He can be off balance, in perfect form or upside down for all it matters, actual stats are what you count if you want to know his shooting value.

  • gilford22

    I totally agree with this one, and so far there’s no one complaining about Dwight Howard being the go to guy. HAHA

  • mike

    Besides Kobe, I don’t think there’s another player in the NBA right now, I’ll want with the ball besides Vince in the clutch. Actually, going by stats, Carter has the most game winning shots of all current NBA players (suck on that haters, hate all you want but the numbers don’t lie), I just give Kobe the slight edge, b’cos he’s so cold blooded.

  • schoops

    This is the dumbest list ever. Not just on Dime, but about the nba on any site. what’s next, a list of best draft picks ever with kwame as the #1? lock it up dime, no one s going to vince in crunch time.

  • Ian

    lakeshow i have no idea what the hell u talking about if the man shoots 50% in clutch situations he shoots 50% period in the odd case u mentioned then u lose by 15 if X player doesnt do all that.

  • Ian

    lakeshow im sorry but u say he hits one of those a year but that stats prove he hits more than that??? im sorry but ill go with stats (percentage wise not crap like ppg)

  • Ian

    question why is the dude that hits the last 2 free throws more clutch than the player that made 5 straight baskets to get u within striking distance???

  • doc

    Control is a pussy.S-Jack a drug dealer that looks like a ghetto smuf?That shit aint funny at all if that was your point.You spit trash on here every day yet your nothing but a fan.Why come read about these thugs then?Same cat that be trying to catch S Jack sweaty ass sneaks after the games.

  • doc

    And I aint mad at Vince,but U not gonna hype up beating toronto with a dunk.THEY LET HIM DUNK!!!!The same team let Kobe get 81 without breaking his eye socket.

  • KnicksFan84

    Control, you’re out of line for that smurf comment.

    Anyways, Vince is a definite crunch time/go to player. Great pickup for Orlando, if only they could have still kept Hedo…

  • skywarp

    how the hell is nash so below on the list i mean its offense is there a pg better than nash when it comes to running there teams offense?

  • Detroit Dave

    GAME 7 of the playoff and I’m down 7 points with 3 minutes to go. I have 4 players and I had the choice between Vince Carter and Stephen Jackson: I would sub in Steven Jackson! PERIOD!

  • Scott

    I watched just about every game VC played for the Raps. Even though he lacks the heart of a champion in respect of the day to day grind … he is a stone cold killer in crunch time. I think he may even be rated to low on this list.

    He always wants the rock in crunch time and he has the athleticism and skill set to get it done.

    I still hate him more than any other professional athlete … we Canadians hold some serious grudges

  • egypt

    @27…. pretty much the reason why you’re not a gm… im a dub’s fan… but that is ridiculous, you must live in Toronto