Caris LeVert- “First-time NBA All-Star”
Had it not been for an unfortunate, gruesome, ankle injury last November, LeVert’s breakout campaign might’ve already taken place. There’s plenty of elite-level talent at the wing throughout the NBA, so this prediction won’t be easily achieved—but it’s also not exactly impossible, either.
LeVert’s number one concern this upcoming season is health, his string of untimely injuries have derailed his progress thus far in the NBA. He’s grown as a playmaker, he has incredible footwork and can stop on a dime, his three-point shooting lacks consistency but can be stellar at times, he has an impressive offensive arsenal and is maturing on the other side of the ball as well.
He’s likely to be featured as the second option in Atkinson’s offense and if he can round his game he could make a surprise appearance at next year’s All-Star Weekend.
Taurean Prince- “3 and D Specialist”
Prince probably already should have emerged as one of the league’s premier “3 and D” wings, but he this unfortunate habit of playing well, without passion, on the defensive end of the court; which Hawks fans can attest to. However, he’s a near-elite three-point marksman in the NBA, last year he shot 39.0 percent from distance and a very impressive 42.8 percent on 3.7 catch and shoot attempts per game.
It’s frustrating because he has the physical tools to be a consistent above-average defender at 6’8, 220 pounds, but too often he neglects them. If he can buy into what Atkinson and the coaching staff wants of him, he can more than succeed within this rotation.
He has the lateral quickness to hang with perimeter players and his aforementioned physical attributes aid him in guarding the league’s more aggressive players. He’s a player to keep a close eye on next year.
Rodions Kurucs- “Two-way versatile weapon”
Rodions Kurucs’ importance to this rotation came us a pleasant surprise for Nets fans a year ago. He started 46 games a season ago, and in those games, the team went 28-18, opposed to 14-22 when he didn’t; there are obviously other factors in play here, but hey, give Rodi some credit.
He served as a backdoor cutting aficionado for the Nets last season, often catching opposing defenses napping beyond the perimeter for easy baskets—a very impressive attribute for a 20-year-old. At times, he served as the team’s best perimeter defender, his positioning and surprising athleticism allowed him to stay in front of the more deceptive guards in the league.
If his three-point shot rounds to form, an attribute that was highly praised in his draft profile, he could emerge as a pivotal two-way player for Atkinson and company.