Brooklyn Nets: Looking back on Caris LeVert’s BK tenure as he returns with Pacers

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 03: Caris LeVert #22 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 03: Caris LeVert #22 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets, fresh off a victory against the crosstown New York Knicks, have a very special game against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night, as it marks the first time Caris LeVert will play against his former team since he was sent to Indiana in the trade that brought James Harden to Brooklyn.

No matter what happens on the court, this trade was worth it, for just about everyone. A physical helped the Pacers detect a small mass on LeVert’s right kidney that turned out to be renal cell carcinoma, a form of kidney cancer. LeVert has since had his kidney’s operated on to remove the mass, and he returned to the floor against the Phoenix Suns.

LeVert, who slipped to the 20th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft after a college career at Michigan that was riddled with injuries, became one of the hallmarks of Brooklyn’s much-hyped player development culture, even if he was traded to get a third superstar.

The Nets still have plenty of love and admiration for their former running mate, especially Kyrie Irving. After Brooklyn’s win against the Detroit Pistons, Irving claims that he sped straight home in order to watch LeVert’s debut.

What did Caris LeVert mean to the Brooklyn Nets?

LeVert is officially a memory of a bygone age. Gone are the days where the Nets took gambles on late-first round picks, molding them from end-of-the-bench players into stars that could be major offensive components on a title team. D’Angelo Russell and Jarrett Allen also fall into this category.

LeVert averaged 13.1 points and 3.7 assists per game with the Nets, but he was topping 18 points per contest from 2019 onward. He was promised nothing in the NBA given his injuries, and has since reinvented himself as someone who can play multiple positions, shoot the lights out, and finish at the rim.

While Steve Nash has spoken at length about the fact that they miss LeVert and what he brings to the locker room, Brooklyn can at least take solace in the fact that this trade helped LeVert avoid a bigger cancer scare, all the while giving him a chance to be a more productive scorer than he ever was in Brooklyn.

LeVert could now be the primary perimeter scoring option in Indiana, something that would’ve never happened in Brooklyn. While moving him was a necessity to get Harden, No. 22 still has as much respect in that Nets locker room as anyone.

dark. Next. Grading every player in 2020-21