Charming and eloquent as always, Vince Carter joined Sportscenter last night to discuss his decision to sign with the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings are a team on the rise. They were huge winners on draft night, and now have a core of distinguished rookies in De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Frank Mason III and Harry Giles. If that core can stay together, the Kings could be a big deal a few years down the road. But for now, they’ve got some growing pains to work out. Lucky for them, the young Kings will have one of the most experienced players in the league in Vince Carter to help them along the way.
“With these young guys, one thing I was impressed with leading up to the draft, and seeing these guys before I even knew that I was going to play in Sacramento, is that they’re hungry,” said Carter in the interview. “They want to win, and they’re willing to learn.”
Justin Jackson certainly showed a willingness to learn at UNC, improving his three point percentage by eight percent by the time he left Chapel Hill. Mason III was a bench player in his freshman season; now the Kansas graduate is the reigning Wooden Award winner. Throw in one-and-dones but proven competitors in Fox and Giles and it’s easy to see what makes this Kings team so appealing to Carter.
Unless he further defies the human aging process and plays for another four or five years, Carter won’t be winning too terribly often in Sacramento. But Carter didn’t sign with Sacramento to win championships. Instead, he signed with them to be a part of the start of something big. After all, this is now a league positively overflowing with talent across all ages, and 2017 may go down as one of the most stacked draft classes ever, with the Kings winning out.
While Golden State has already been written in as Finals champions for the next couple years, their dynasty will end eventually. This will leave an opportunity for teams like Sacramento. And while seasons like the upcoming one may go down as unremarkable, given how beastly the West is, it will be the rookie years for this group of guys who have the capability to be great.
Not like Carter has already thrown in the towel. Though a tall order, a playoff berth in 2018 is not out of the question. “We’re still shooting for the playoffs,” he said. “I think that’s what you have to do. You have to set your mentality high. You have to set your goals high.” You shouldn’t be surprised—this is Vince Carter here. He’s always set his goals high, whether he was throwing 360 behind-the-leg windmills or hitting game winners. It’s a mighty tough task, but an eight seed for this young Sacramento team could be just what they need to kickstart their NBA careers into the next gear.
Vince Carter is a playoff vet. He’s been there. Zach Randolph, a part of a perennial playoff team in Memphis, has been there. George Hill, a member of a Pacers team that went to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013, has been there. Having guys like that on this Sacramento team will prove invaluable to the development of their newfound young core—to Justin Jackson, De’Aaron Fox, and company, Vince Carter will be as much a coach as a teammate. That’s a set up for something really, really special down the line. Carter will be looking to embrace that role as the offseason slowly begins to trickle down.
“...These guys are hungry and they want to learn. And that’s what it’s all about... to lead these guys who want to learn how to win, who want to learn how to play the NBA game, and that’s all you can ask for.”
So, for now, all Justin Jackson and Vince Carter can do is focus on building up their team. The ultimate success that they’re aiming for won’t come this year or next year. However, if this core can stick around for awhile and guys like Carter can help develop them into the type of players they’re capable of becoming, the future of the Kings could be very, very bright.