What Advice Should Zion Williamson Seek From Vince Carter?

In the 2019-20 season, the NBA may see the last of aging superstar Vince Carter at the same time they say hello to an up-and-comer, Zion Williamson. As such, Williamson may look to the NBA’s oldest player for advice when their teams cross paths. Vince Carter, after all, has played in the NBA longer than Williamson has been alive.

Vince Carter’s impact

Returning to the Atlanta Hawks for his final season, Vince Carter has served as an elder statesman in the NBA for several years. ESPN sat down with some of the rookies and asked them about his impact on them. For De’Andre Hunter, who was traded to the Hawks after being drafted by the Lakers, he will be able to presumably speak with Carter the entire year.

For Zion, however, the chances may be rare, as the Hawks and Pelicans will only play two times during the season. “I got a lot of respect for him,” said Williamson. “I’ll probably try to get some advice out of him if he wants to give it to me.” A man with Carter’s experience has a breadth of knowledge for these young players.

What’s the secret to longevity in the NBA?

As of October, Carter will have played across four decades in the NBA, a feat never been done before him. As NBA fans have seen with both extreme cases like Brandon Roy and Greg Oden, longevity isn’t as easy as continuing to play. In a league where recent superstars like Carmelo Anthony cannot find a job, Carter continues to be a commodity. 

Williamson may have a long career, himself. However, doing so requires luck, fitness, and acceptance of one’s age. Carter may not have had the Williamson hype out of college. However, as the first Toronto Superstar, he knows a thing or two about having an entire nation look to you, and he also knows what it’s like to disappoint.

How do you maintain your athleticism?

Although Carter can throw down the occasional dunk with impressive frequency, he is no longer the athletic freak of nature who won the 2000 dunk contest. For some, this loss of athleticism can mean the end of a career. In a league where a jump shot and a stronger skill set is vital, Williamson could learn a thing or two about how to capitalize on his gifts now while preserving his body for the future. 

What would you do differently?

In a 22-year NBA career, mistakes will be made. From an ugly exit from Toronto to a disappointing stint in Phoenix, Carter has had his fair share of less-than-memorable events in his career. However, his ability to turn those mistakes around and become a veteran player shows that mistakes aren’t necessarily a death-knell for a career but an opportunity to grow. 

Carter’s career has brought him many things, but it never brought him an NBA championship. As his late-career has shown, however, he’s perfectly content and has notably resisted ring-chasing. Perhaps, Zion can learn about these values and pick his brain about the reasons why. 

How would you define your career?

Carter’s superstar days are what put him on the map, but his decade-long acceptance of a diminished role is equally impressive. While we often look at players at their peak, a veteran player who is still a valuable contributor should also be appreciated. By talking to Carter, Williamson can learn what it is he truly values in his final year.