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3 TORONTO RAPTORS
Chris Ballard
October 30, 2000
There's a new old hand at point guard, and that should be a very good thing for Vince Carter
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October 30, 2000

3 Toronto Raptors

There's a new old hand at point guard, and that should be a very good thing for Vince Carter

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Projected Lineup

STARTERS

PVR*

1999-2000 KEY STATS

SF

Corliss Williamson

102

10.3 ppg

3.8 rpg

1.1 apg

50.0 FG%

76.9 FT%

PF

Charles Oakley

162

6.9 ppg

6.8 rpg

3.2 apg

1.28 spg

41.8 FG%

C

Antonio Davis

97

11.5 ppg

8.8 rpg

1.3 apg

1.27 bpg

44.0 FG%

SG

Vince Carter

6

25.7 ppg

5.8 rpg

1.34 spg

1.12 bpg

46.5 FG%

PG

Mark Jackson

87

8.1 ppg

8.0 apg

3.7 rpg

43.2 FG%

40.3 3FG%

BENCH

PVR*

1999-2000 KEY STATS

F-G

Morris Peterson (R)

158

16.8 ppg

6.0 rpg

1.18 spg

46.5 FG%

42.5 3FG%

C-F

Kevin Willis

182

7.6 ppg

6.1 rpg

0.6 apg

41.5 FG%

79.9 FT%

G

Dell Curry

205

7.6 ppg

1.5 rpg

1.3 apg

42.7 FG%

39.3 3FG%

G

Muggsy Bogues

215

5.1 ppg

3.7 apg

0.81 spg

43.9 FG%

90.8 FT%

G

Alvin Williams

250

5.3 ppg

2.3 apg

1.5 rpg

39.7 FG%

29.1 3FG%

New acquisition
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college year)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 113)

Mark Jackson was stripping the tape from his ankles after practice on the second day of training camp when a ball boy offered him a bottle of Gatorade. The 35-year-old point guard examined the purplish-blue beverage, a funky grape flavor that advertises itself as "New & Bold," and then handed it back. "I don't know about this stuff," he said skeptically.

It was a fitting response, for Jackson is neither new nor bold. The 13-year veteran is as old school as they come, a pass-first, pass-second throwback to an era when point guards didn't dunk and the only sports drink was H[2]O. As such, he stands in stark contrast to Vince Carter, Toronto's new-jack, raise-the-roof star who happens to be the pitchman for that new, bold thirst aid.

Not that anyone in Toronto cares what Jackson is drinking, as long as the Brooklyn native provides the Raptors with leadership, something they sorely missed during what was, for the most part, an impressive 1999-2000 season that ended in a first-round playoff sweep at the hands of the Knicks. To say that the Raptors lacked stability is to traffic in criminal understatement. Their point guard ( Doug Christie) was a 6'6" two guard who wanted nothing more than to return to his natural position; their second-best player ( Tracy McGrady) spent much of the season with his head in the Orlando real estate section; and their coach (the since-fired Butch Carter) accused everyone from former Raptor and current Knick Marcus Camby (the subject of a Carter defamation lawsuit which was later withdrawn) to his own players of being out to get him.

You can imagine, then, the sense of calm that washed over G.M. Glen Grunwald this summer when he signed Lenny Wilkens, the NBA's alltime winningest coach and one of its coolest customers, and the heady, steady Jackson. Unhappy in Indiana, where he was splitting time with Travis Best, Jackson was hoping to find a playoff contender in need of a veteran floor leader. When it became clear in early August that Toronto was going to make him an offer, Jackson called his good friend and former Pacers teammate Antonio Davis, now a Raptor, and left a simple five-word message on his cell phone: "Jax is in the building." A few days later, at a get-acquainted dinner with Grunwald, Wilkens and the team's owners at a steak house in downtown Toronto, Jackson signed a four-year, $16.4 million deal.

The player who stands to gain the most from Jackson's arrival is Carter, who moves to the two spot now that Christie and McGrady have been traded. Partnered with the unselfish Jackson—who was one of only two players to play at least 50 games and have more assists than field goal attempts last season—Carter will receive a steady diet of pinpoint passes and alley-oops.

Carter appears to understand the value of Jackson: "I'm not here to help him, he's here to help me," Carter says, only half-jokingly. The Raptors' star also appears more mature after an off-season in which he not only picked up an Olympic gold medal and made French toast out of Frederic Weis, but also earned his degree from UNC. According to teammates, Carter is becoming a vocal locker room presence, no doubt the result of a summer spent with Tim Hardaway and Gary Payton.

The biggest challenge the Raptors face is replacing McGrady, who provided 15.4 points a game and led the team in blocked shots. Sweet-shooting draft steal Morris Peterson is a leading candidate to fill the scoring void. "Everybody was worried about Tracy leaving," says the 6'9" Davis, who will again be playing out of position at center. "But Peterson is good. He's quick, understands the game and has a big heart."

Combine new jacks like Peterson with the old Jackson and you have the making of a team that can play deep into the spring—if not into the Finals. And one evening in the not-so-distant future Jackson and Carter may yet share the same beverage, of the sweet and bubbly variety.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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