Vince Carter Ready to Step Up His Game in 2008-09

Yama HazheerCorrespondent IIAugust 2, 2008

Last season, Vince Carter received a lot of criticism.

He played on a bum ankle, regressed defensively, and just looked like he didn't care about the struggles of the Nets.

Jason Kidd was frustrated, demanded a trade, got his divorce from Carter, and moved on to Dallas on his quest to win a championship ring.

Another one of the Carter's critics was the great Magic Johnson. During a TNT halftime show, Magic said that Vince Carter had gone from a superstar to a regular player.

Carter was not selected to the All-Star game for the first time in seven seasons.  During the All-Star weekend, he got his mind together and finally got some much needed rest on his ankle.

After the break was over, the young Nets team struggled without Jason Kidd. Vince stepped up and took over the Nets, and became the leader of the team. He showed tons of energy and passion, and looked like the younger Vince. He was the vocal leader and showed effort for the game. He played every game of the second half of the season, and even looked angry during the team's losses.

Vince was one of three players in the league to average 20 points, grab five boards, and dish out five dimes. The other two? LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.

Despite his great play, the rest of the team did not step up, and the Nets fell short of the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.

This year, the Nets will be without the other leading scorer of the team, Richard Jefferson. Carter will have to increasee his scoring load, and look to set an example for all of his younger teammates.

Carter underwent a successful arthroscopic surgery during the offseason to fix up his ankle, and will come into training camp healthier than before.

You may not see Vince Carter jumping over seven-footers this upcoming season, but you will see a veteran leader, who makes his teammates better while managing to score over 20 points a game.

I'm expecting 25 points, six rebounds, and six assists from Carter this season, and think that it is possible with the new faces on this Nets team.

The Nets may not look like a playoffs team, but if Vince Carter plays like he did at the second half of last season, you never know what is possible.

He led a Toronto Raptors team to the Eastern Conference Semi Finals, and if he plays like he did then, the Nets will contend for a playoff spot—led by half-man, half-amazing.