Caris LeVert’s second game since returning from his dislocated right foot wasn’t stellar, but the Brooklyn Nets’ standout’s problems are timing-related.
If you base it on benchmarks such as whether or not he’s performing athletically at the same level he was at pre-injury, it’s exciting to see.
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LeVert on Monday played in just his second game since Nov. 12, when he dislocated his right foot. He missed a bit more than a half-season, 42 games, while recovering from the injury.
On Monday, his minutes load increased from 15 in his return Friday to 23 in the Nets’ 127-125 loss to the Toronto Raptors and he finished with six points on 3-of-11 shooting, missing all five of his 3-point attempts, while notching four assists, a steal and a block.
LeVert also had five of Brooklyn’s 15 turnovers on the night.
But the issue with LeVert isn’t his burst or his instincts. Rather, it’s just a matter of timing and rust.
The one thing that simply can’t be duplicated in workouts or practices is game speed. The adrenaline, the competition and the atmosphere combine to speed things up to a level you can’t mimic completely in a training facility.
LeVert got to the rim effectively, but converted just 2-of-5 shots. His timing was just a bit off. His 3-point touch wasn’t stellar before the injury — remember that he was shooting just 31.1 percent on 4.4 attempts per game from deep in the 14 games he played prior to missing nearly three months.
He had some ball-handling errors, a couple of passes that went awry and he had his pocket picked twice by OG Anunoby, Toronto’s 6-foot-8, 232-pound wing with the 7-foot-6 wingspan.
Dribble the ball out in front of you the way LeVert did and the non-stop stretchiness of Anunoby makes you pay.
But again, that’s just getting more accustomed to game conditions and game speed.
The concern would come if LeVert was slow on his first step or lacked the explosiveness to get by his defender to attack the rim.
Those are not the problems. He just has to get used to finishing through live rounds, so to speak, defenders primed to stop him and don’t care if he’s playing in just his second game in three months or his 52nd game of the season.
There’s nothing wrong with Caris LeVert that some more game minutes won’t fix. We just have to be patient.