Caris LeVert has done a little of everything in his 2 seasons with the Brooklyn Nets, but with the end of his rookie deal looming, he needs to find a niche.
LeVert was limited to just 33 games in his final two seasons at the University of Michigan after breaking his left foot three times, dropping him to the lower middle of the first round in the 2016 NBA Draft.
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The Indiana Pacers took him 20th overall and dealt him to the Nets for forward Thaddeus Young.
Since then LeVert has been able to avoid any long periods of missed time after he recovered from his last foot surgery from college and has picked up minutes at the two wing positions and last season added some point guard to his repertoire, filling in when the battered Nets were shorthanded at the position.
Last season showed solid growth. His playing time increased from 21.7 minutes per game as a rookie to 26.3, with increases in his per game averages across the board as a result. LeVert put up 12.1 points, 4.2 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game.
Shooting, particularly from 3-point range, was a weak spot, but he finished strong, hitting .451/.373/.760 in 21 appearances after the All-Star break. That was a marked uptick from his .428/.335/.693 shooting prior to the break.
LeVert’s shooting cratered in January, when his slash line was .344/.262/.643 in 11 games after a very strong December showing at .490/.453/.804 in 15 appearances.
The Nets have a decision to make on LeVert before the end of October on whether to pick up his fourth-year option at $2.63 million. The wing has gotten crowded in Brooklyn, with starters Allen Crabbe and DeMarre Carroll and Joe Harris emerging as a top reserve at both spots.
Harris and LeVert figure to be the top backups at the 2 and 3 spots, but LeVert needs to find his touch from the corners. The 6-foot-7 wing hit only 28.1 percent of his corner 3 attempts last season, which is a problem for a pace-and-space offense.
The corner 3 is a staple of that system, the most efficient shot on the floor because of its shorter distance and added value.
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The challenge for LeVert this season is to find where he fits in the overall plan in Brooklyn. He’s got two years remaining on his rookie deal, with the aforementioned decision on the fourth-year option coming up by the end of next month.
And the Nets are going to be one of several teams with hefty amounts of cap space entering next summer’s free-agent sweepstakes, a situation that could further clog the depth chart around LeVert.
This is particularly true if the Nets are able to gain traction with two of the more attractive opt-out candidates for next summer, Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler and new Toronto Raptors wing Kawhi Leonard.
Caris LeVert has done a lot to prove his detractors wrong, just by showing the troublesome left foot is fully healthy and showing some durability. He’s been versatile, stepping into rotation holes to help the club.
Now he needs to step forward and establish his spot in the rotation and his place in the bigger picture for the Nets.