Caris LeVert was one of the most exciting players on the Brooklyn Nets to watch last season. Sean Marks swung for the fences by selecting LeVert 20th overall in 2016 and so far, this gamble has paid off.
LeVert used all four years of his NCAA eligibility playing for the University of Michigan. He had a rocky collegiate career injury wise. There were stints were some analysts projected him as a surefire top-10 pick yet leading up to the draft, Bleacher Report had him projected as the 44th pick. His time in Ann Arbor was plagued by a number of injuries to his lower extremities. Despite this, he did manage to average 16.5 points and 5.3 boards per contest during the Wolverines’ 2015-2016 campaign.
Even with all the questions about LeVert’s health looming around the 2016 NBA Draft, his high character remained consistent. The 6-7 wing penned an open letter through the Players’ Tribune to all 30 NBA franchises discussing the hardships he had sustained and how they made him a better person. This was likely a factor in him being selected dozens of picks ahead of his projected draft position.
Marks then cut a draft day deal to acquire the 20th pick from the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Thaddeus Young. Following this, Brooklyn did not hesitate to select the Ohio native. The Nets likely had LeVert in mind when trading into this spot, as Marks went on to say that he truly embodies an ideal, “Brooklyn Net.”
LeVert went on to become a rookie standout among a weak draft class. He scored more points in his 57 games than several lottery picks did over the course of a full season. Despite this limited number of games, he showed enough to become a regular starter by the end of the season.
On and off the court, there is perhaps no Net that is more likable than LeVert. His calm demeanor is perfect for a rebuilding situation. And of course, his high-upside and two-way potential provide Nets Nation with hope.
In looking at LeVert’s numbers as a whole from last season, they fail to represent his full potential. Putting up 8.2 points in 21 minutes per game on 32% shooting from behind the arc does not exactly scream star potential. Rather, it is small instances that better demonstrate why some believe he will be a star in the NBA someday.
This is just one portion of a small sample size that LeVert has shown of being able to create his own shot. In all of these instances, LeVert has not only demonstrated a fantastic ability to create space but also while doing it smoothly. He has a certain aura about him while pulling off these difficult feats that make them look second nature. This is a trait that cannot be taught and is only seen in some of the most gifted scorers that the NBA has to offer.
LeVert also displayed uber-athleticism in his rookie year. It was reassuring for many fans to see that this aspect of LeVert’s game had not diminished despite his multitude of injuries. Take a look at this highlight, during which the 21-year-old literally extends above the rim to then throw the ball down hard.