One of my personal beliefs is that it takes a good big man and a good little man to make a championship-caliber team. Shaq and Kobe, MJ and Horace, Duncan and Ginobili, Shaq and Wade...all had extremely good guards playing with solid (Horace Grant) or exceptional (Shaq and Timmy) big men. With that in mind, I wanted to do a brief look at Vince Carter's past big men, starting just before the Chris Bosh era. This is very shallow, because I didn't watch a lot of basketball during these years (I was in college and playing poker), and I didn't pay attention to Toronto at all, other than to make fun of the original uniforms.
2002-2003. Toronto. Antonio Davis, Greg Foster, Nate Huffman, Jelani McCoy, and Mamadou N'diaye.
Antonio Davis wasn't totally horrible. The rest of this rotation was. Especially Foster.
2003-2004. Toronto. Mengke Bateer, Chris Bosh, Antonio Davis, Donyell Marshall.
Marshall could shoot the ball, and Bosh was showing signs of becoming a great player. Unfortunately, Davis was slowing down with age, and Bateer wasn't an NBA-level talent.
Two aging veterans and a prospect, plus Marc Jackson. Krstic was probably the best of this bunch, since Collins and Robinson were no longer good players.
Egads. The worst part of the line-up is, it was probably actually the best group Carter played with. This was Mikki Moore's Fluke Rule year (he was actually almost average), and Ilic only played 6 minutes (compiling an amusingly bad negative PER of -48.72). Krstic was solid, and Boone was decent. Collins and Robinson were definitely showing their age, but there were 3 guys that could ball.
When your two stat-producing bigs are Stromile Swift and Josh Boone, you've got issues. This was (fortunately) Collins' last season with the Nets. Magloire was about as effective on the court as I'd be (and I'm a good foot shorter). Krstic had a baaaaad year recovering from an ACL tear.
2008-2009. New Jersey. Josh Boone, Brook Lopez, Stromile Swift, Sean Williams.
Lopez was the best big on this team. Boone wasn't as good as the past two years, but still acceptable. Swift came back to reality, and Sean Williams was just kind of there.
PER-wise, it's bad:
2002-2003 - 0 players 15.00 or above, 2 players 12.50-15.00 (Davis and N'diaye), 1 player below 10.00 (Foster)
2003-2004 - 2 players 15.00 or above (Marshall and Bosh), 0 players 12.50-15.00, 1 player below 10.00 (Bateer)
2005-2006 - 0 players 15.00 or above, 2 players 12.50-15.00 (Krstic and Jackson), 2 players below 10.00 (Collins and Robinson)
2006-2007 - 1 player 15.00 or above (Krstic), 2 players 12.50-15.00 (Moore and Boone), 2 players below 10.00 (Collins and Robinson)
2007-2008 - 0 players 15.00 or above, 3 players 12.50-15.00 (Boone, Swift, and Williams), 3 players below 10.00 (Krstic, Collins, and Magloire)
2008-2009 - 1 player 15.00 or above (Lopez), 1 player 12.50-15.00 (Boone), 2 players below 10.00 (Williams, Swift)
The Magic (using this year's players, last year's PER): 1 player 25.00 or above (Howard), 3 players 15.00-20.00 (Lewis, Bass, Gortat), 1 player 12.50-15.00 (Anderson)
Now, I don't expect everyone's PER to stay that high, but it certainly suggests a different caliber of talent. The best big VC's ever played with before (the rookie Lopez) would be a distant second on Orlando, just barely ahead of Gortat. The second-best (06-07 Krstic) would be about equal to Brandon Bass. This should help VC make a deeper run this year, since there are finally post presences that opposing defenders have to respect, rather than focusing all their effort on stopping Carter.