In my time as a VC fan over the years, a lot has been said about one who, at one point, was "the New Jordan". Getting over the cliche, Vince, to me, is unique. His play and personality doesn't resemble anybody I can think of in NBA history. More about that after the jump.
First off, I'm a big VC fan. My personality, approach, my game in real life etc is similar to his keeping the proportions. So obviously, you need to take everything I'm about to write with a grain of salt as I'll try to keep everything objective but you know how fans are.
I haven't had the chance to watch him play in Toronto too much because I was little and there was no way you could watch the NBA in Romania (I'm from Romania) at that time. I wasn't passionate about basketball either. He raised my passion about basketball to such a high level after seeing him play on the internet later on in his last months as a Raptor and then further on as a Net.
I've probably seen ~300 or so games with Vince so I think I know what I'm talking about.
First off, Vince is a special talent. His game is poetic and artistic in nature and it's usually based on instinct. Basically, talent = instinct in general. For him, the game itself is a matter of both instinct AND fundamentals and intelligence. While playing for the Nets, he used both his smarts and instincts. For Orlando, only his smarts, almost never his instincts.
People tried to change his way of playing in Orlando. SVG considered shooting fadeaways and running isolation plays for Vince as being inefficient, so Vince tried to change himself. He stopped shooting many fadeaways and started to shoot straight jumpers. Started deffering more. Didn't cared at all about stats. Etc etc etc. That kind of destroyed him because he wasn't playing by instinct anymore. He wasn't himself at all.
I want to talk about every aspect of Vince's game and how this applies in the present:
In terms of shooting, Vince's natural tendency is to shoot the fadeaway jumper. I know this is strange, but I'm sure that over his career he shot more fadeaways than regular jumpshots so THIS way of shooting is actually his efficient way of shooting and has a higher chance of going in because he gives the ball a greater arc when he shoots fadeaways and spaces himself from the defender. The only exception is probably the three point shot, in which he's usually better shooting a regular jumpshot.
The problem right now is that his leg strength is not what it used to be. That means he needs to compensate with more power from the upperbody to shoot the ball and that messes the shot up. He's also thinking about his shot because he's been told not to fadeaway, and thinking about shooting = missing shots. A shot needs to be instinctual and fluid, without mental pressure and especially without THINKING. Any good shooter knows this.
Hopefully, he'll be let alone to shoot it how he knows it so these things don't happen in Phoenix as they happened in Orlando.
Vince is actually a good on ball defender. When Orlando played games I usually watched Vince in the defense to see what he does. He's moving, he has active hands (has gotten a lot of ball strips, deflections and steals in the last Orlando games), he bodies up and so on. He's not quick, that's the problem. He's a decent man defender and a good team defender. The whole think with Vince is his effort. Which brings me to the next point.
THIS is the biggest and most important thing for VC. Confidence. Vince when playing cocky and arrogant can absolutely score on anybody in the NBA. When he feels like he can dominate and he's supported in that role by the teammates AND ESPECIALLY FANS, his mental strength increases dramatically and he plays by the instinct again.
This also explains the difference between his road and home shooting percentages for this season. At home he kind of feels supported and WANTS to play well. On the road he used to deffer too much to other players. He doesn't believe in himself anymore. When one of the Magic reporters had an interview with him and asked him how he feels this season (at the beginning of training camp) with him being old and so on, Vince interrupted him to say "I know, on my way to retiring" and he wasn't sarcastic. He believe he was on his way into retiring if you looked on his face.
THAT's what needs to be changed and I'm not sure he can change that mentality that he has. He can fake it, but he still has it. He needs help from Nash and Hill and Alvin and the fans and trust, and I think he can turn that around. That's the single most important thing for him, by far.
His strength has diminished constantly over the years since 2008 or so which is only natural since he's getting older. Over 30 you're going to go down and down. Still, he worked this summer with the Magic trainers and got his body fat lower and increased his standing vertical from 28 to 31 inches. Why is that important? Well, for one, it's important because it shows that he is willing to train and responds to training. Secondly, if he works on his strength again in this offseason he can be soooo much better, especially on his leg strength. Thirdly, because a higher standing vertical jump is a good predicment of athleticism (acceleration and quick movement).
His usage needs to be high. Needs, as in I wish it's high. That's because he can do so much on the floor. In my years watching him I have never encountered ANY defender that can stop him. Why? Because he's too creative and can score from anywhere on the floor. He's too unpredictable to defend properly. At this point of his career though, he has a tendency to drive to the right on like 80% of his possessions in the pick and roll and is too slow to be "that" unpredictable, but he's still has tricks up his sleeve. He was afraid to use them in Orlando because everybody was looking for a scapegoat to blame any defeat on, so he tried to be conservative so he can avoid that. Meaning, he was playing a low risk, low reward game.
This is Vince's biggest problem. He's not tough. He seems to have lost his passion for the game ever since he went in Orlando. So he doesn't "have heart" because he always seems to think he's going to get injured so he stays away from contact, and he's confortable in that position. When he's hit, he has a tendency to stop being aggressive and settle for long two pointers which are very innefficient (unless you REALLY are hitting them). He whines, he stays on the floor 5 minutes when he's being hit and so on. That's definitely a negative on him and has always been.
In a weird kind of way, he's more tougher on defense where he does occassionally take the charge, but sometimes (now more often than in the past) he commits the silly and-1 foul or shies away from contact. His lack of passion on both ends of the floor contributes to this as well, because he doesn't really care about the game.
He does get pumped up occassionally, playing good defense or attacking the rim but it happens in spurts, usually when he's pissed.
He might have had an ego in the past with him wanting to take every shot (and in my opinion, for good reason), but that was in his Toronto days. In New Jersey, he said he doesn't want to be "the man", but instead help Kidd and Richard Jefferson. He said the same thing when he was traded to Orlando, that he wants to help Dwight. There's no ego problem. He hasn't been a locker room cancer. He's been a great team mate. Only the media made him a demon in the lockerroom and people that don't know what they're talking about.
If anything, players that want to win by any means get upset and Vince's approach and that's when people think there's a "rupture in the lockerroom" with him and his teammates. But Vince is actually competitive, he's just not "physical". That's the culprit. And he has a tendency to get down when he's not supported. He's weak mentally right now and he needs help with his confidence.
Again, not a problem with his ego at all. That's why he's an incredible passer for a SG. He doesn't feel he needs to take every shot and he passes the ball. He genuinely enjoys dishing assists, it's not just for the media or anything like that. The thing is, in the teams he's played for (Toronto and NJ), HE was the main weapon because HE had the best chance of scoring in his team, by far, and for good reason.
In fact, he was TOO deffering to other people in Orlando, and that's what triggered the trade actually. He wasn't aggressive and demanding the ball enough to be a double team threat so Dwight can get more open.
So in Phoenix, his usage rate needs to increase and he needs more plays because he's a scorer and he needs to be treated as such and not waste his talent trying to make him a lockdown defender only for him to exit with foul trouble.
How to properly use Vince?
Vince's greatest scoring threats are these:
3) Pick and rolls
He's one of the best isolation players in the league even at this age and lack of quickness, so he needs to be used like that. In the post, he's a monster because he's too big and he's still strong for the majority of SGs in the league. And he has a nice post shot and can even score with hook shots from there, or with spinning layups.
In the pick and roll, either the 1/2 pick and roll or the 2/4, 2/5 pick and roll he's great as long as the other player properly rolls to the basket. If not, he can go all the way to the rim or pass it for the corner three.
I can answer any other questions in the comments section.