Toronto Raptors

Back to School: Vince Carter proved he was more than just a dunker

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Vince Carter [Getty Images]

As the new school year approaches, we're rewinding things with Back to School Week! This week, we'll take a look back at the amateur years of some of the biggest stars to suit up for the Raptors or hail from Canada.

Prior to the 1998 NBA Draft night, long-time basketball writer Jackie MacMullan claimed there were "no slam Duncans" in the class.

It did not take long for Vince Carter to prove her theory wrong.

In his first season with the Toronto Raptors, Carter won Rookie of the Year honours with averages of 18.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. He built up a montage of ridiculous dunks in his rookie season that left fans around the world calling him Vinsanity, Half-Man/Half-Amazing and Air Canada.

That was a side of Carter many were familiar with, though. From his four years in high school to his three seasons at the University of North Carolina, he was always known for his high-flying, rim-rattling dunks.

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It was Carter's jump shot that scouts were more unsure about.

It didn't help that Carter nearly avoided the 3-point shot all together as a rookie, shooting 28.8 percent on only 66 attempts his first season. But he once again proved his critics wrong shortly thereafter in shooting over 40 percent from distance over his next two seasons.

MORE: Don't miss Carter's final career game in Canada

While he has never been known for his perimeter shooting, Carter has shot at least 34 percent from distance every year since his rookie season and hit over 35 percent of his attempts in 14 out of his 20 seasons in the league. He's even remodeled his game since turning 35, with 51.2 percent of his field goal attempts coming from long range. He has converted 37 percent of those attempts, averaging 9.2 points per game as a veteran role player.

His ability to adjust his game as a 3-point shooter has increased his longevity in the league. He is one of three remaining active players that were drafted in the 90s, along with Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry. This upcoming season will be his 21st, tying him with Kevin Garnett, Robert Parish and Kevin Willis for most seasons played in NBA history.

Carter is destined for the Hall of Fame, making eight consecutive All-Star appearances from 1999-2007 as a member of the Raptors and the New Jersey Nets. During those seasons, he averaged 24.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.3 steals, shooting 44.6 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from distance. He also earned two All-NBA honours with the Raptors.

Carter currently ranks 22nd on the all-time scoring list with 24,868 points and is widely considered as the greatest dunker the game has ever seen. He truly showed that he was much more than an athlete, but a tremendous all-around basketball player as well.

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