Mid-Season Review: Caris LeVert Plays Into Nets’ Future Core

The Brooklyn Nets took a risk on potential over health issues to obtain Caris LeVert and so far the guard is proving Sean Marks’ choice was well merited.

The Brooklyn Nets’ decision to trade forward Thaddeus Young to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for the rights to Caris LeVert, (the 20th pick in the 2016 NBA draft), was met by speculation from fans and experts alike. In hindsight the trade made sense. Brooklyn were trending downward and towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Trading a useful veteran with a hefty contract in exchange for draft compensation was the answer.

The LeVert Decision:

What didn’t make sense was acquiring the rights to Caris LeVert, an injury-prone guard from the University of Michigan. Coming into the draft LeVert had undergone two stress fracture surgeries on his right foot during his sophomore and junior seasons at Michigan. LeVert was coming off of Jones fracture surgery on the same foot that cut his senior season with the Wolverines short. The potential was obvious with LeVert. He averaged 16.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists in the 15 games he appeared in during his senior season. Yet, the injury history pertaining to his left foot was a huge red flag for many organizations.

A season and a half later, LeVert is thriving with the Nets and looks like he may end up being one of the better players to come out of the somewhat underwhelming 2016 NBA Draft. Injuries to Brooklyn’s guard rotation has thrust LeVert into the backup point guard role. The sophomore seized the opportunity and ran with it.

LeVert is currently averaging 11.7 points, 4.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.2 steals for the Nets. He hit his stride in December, where he averaged 14.3 points and 5.4 assists while shooting 49 percent from the floor. As the floor general of the second unit, LeVert demonstrated growth and improvement in his game. Like all youngsters however, there remain kinks in his game. Moving forward Kenny Atkinson and the Brooklyn Nets’ staff will focus on helping him improve those.

The Good:

Out of bench players who have appeared in minimum of 25 games this season, LeVert ranks fourth in assists per game (4.4). LeVert has scored more points (462) than Will Barton (453), Dwayne Wade (448), and T.J. McConnell (294), dished out more assists (167) than Cory Joseph (151), Jamal Crawford (122), and Terry Rozier (101).

Moreover, he’s grabbed more rebounds (152) than Bismack Biyombo (147) and Marcus Smart (124), all of which come off of the bench. Additionally, the former Wolverine has grabbed the fourth most steals (48) out of all bench players, more than Marcus Smart (43) and Kelly Oubre Jr. (32).

Looking at those stats alone, you can grasp the idea that LeVert has solidified himself as one of the best all-around players off the bench in the league, just two seasons into what could end up being a long and prosperous career.

Scoring and Playmaking:

LeVert is seventh out of all bench players (who’ve played a minimum of 25 games) in assist percentage at 27.6, meaning he’s accounting for 27.6 percent of the team’s assist production when he’s on the floor. The point guard has been helming a Brooklyn bench that is second in the league in points per game. This reserve unit averages 44.8 points. Additionally, the bench unit rank  second in total bench points scored with 2,241 points on the season.