Brooklyn Nets Morning Dish: A deep dive into Caris LeVert and a playoff push

Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

In the Friday edition of the Brooklyn Nets Morning Dish, we share a deep dive into Caris LeVert’s role in a playoff push and the fill-in who must step up.

It’s the end of the work week and we begin the Friday edition of the Brooklyn Nets Morning Dish with a look at how Caris LeVert had the Nets on a trajectory to not end their work for the 2018-19 season when the regular season was done.

Jackson Frank of The Step Back took an in-depth dive into LeVert’s breakout this season and how his emergence as the go-to player for Brooklyn had the Nets on a path toward a playoff spot.

"On the ball, he was Brooklyn’s jailbreak scorer — exactly the type of player (coach Kenny) Atkinson’s offense has longed for late in games when the free-flowing attack slows down and it’s time for a bucket.LeVert ranked in the 83rd percentile (1.03 points per possession) as a pick-and-roll ball-handler and was roasting switches in isolation (97th percentile, 1.27 PPP). Nurturing those marks was his 57 percent shooting on forays to the rim, which ranked 10th among the 91 players with 60-plus drives before Monday."

Frank also pointed out LeVert’s improvements as a catch-and-shoot threat from 3-point range and as a cutter.

His conclusion was that LeVert had shown the tools necessary to be a go-to scorer, a piece that is essential for playoff teams and something the Nets have not had since Atkinson took over the coaching reins.

The Indiana Pacers may never regret the trade that sent LeVert’s rights to Brooklyn for veteran forward Thaddeus Young, given what Young has done for the Pacers, but history might show that to be one of the first big steals for general manager Sean Marks.

Medical miracle? One doctor says yes

Much has been made of how similar the injury sustained by Caris LeVert was to earlier injuries to Paul George and Gordon Hayward.

Dr. Rajpal Brar posted a video for a site called The Injury Insight that LeVert’s prognosis was indeed a very rare best-case scenario.

"… [T]he Nets’ medical staff diagnosed Caris LeVert with a right foot subtalar dislocation with no fractures and moderate ligament damage. Further, they were quite confident he would be back this season. It’s the rare best case scenario."

In the video, Brar discussed what a subtalar dislocation is (I freely admit I had no idea until I looked it up), the rarity of LeVert’s injury, a return timetable and any long-term risks LeVert faces.

Disclaimer: The timetable Brar issues is not an official one. The Nets have said there is no timetable as of yet for LeVert’s return.

Crabbe must clamp down on chance

It was a bit of a surprise to some when Allen Crabbe was inserted into the starting lineup in place of Caris LeVert for the Brooklyn Nets when they hosted the Miami Heat on Wednesday.

A player who had emerged as the team’s best offensive threat replaced by the player who had through 14 games provided the team’s with its biggest offensive letdown.

Crabbe missed most of the team’s final three preseason games after spraining his left ankle very early in the second rehearsal game. It was a scenario very similar to last season, when Crabbe hurt the left ankle and shot the ball poorly upon his return.

Crabbe’s early-season slump in 2017-18, however, looks like the second coming of Stephen Curry when compared to what Crabbe has done this season since returning.

He missed the opener before coming back for the home opener on Oct. 19 and prior to Wednesday’s game had shot 25.2 percent overall and 26.9 percent from 3-point range. Those are not misprints.

In 26 minutes before fouling out against the Heat, Crabbe scored six points on 2-of-6 shooting, going 2-of-4 from deep.

Crabbe is averaging 5.9 fewer minutes per game this season (23.4 compared to 29.3), but his scoring is down from 13.2 points per game to just .6.5. However, he is averaging 1.3 turnovers per game this season, up from 1.0 per game a season ago.

So he has that going for him.

Crabbe told Zach Braziller of the New York Post on Thursday that it is a process.

"“It’s just really something I’m going through right now and I’ve got to figure it out. Especially wit the injury to Caris, guys have to step up, including myself. I just gotta stay positive about it and understand that it will pass and I’ll get back to my normal self eventually.”"

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Crabbe is the Nets’ highest-paid player at $18.5 million this season and has a player option for next season at the same amount.

He has scored in single figures in each of his last nine games, with his season-high of 14 points coming on Oct. 28 in the loss at home to the Golden State Warriors, also the only game this season he’s shot better than 50 percent from beyond the arc (4-for-7).

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When attempting to replace nearly 20 points per game, anything Crabbe could do to get himself back to past form would be a big help for the Nets.