When the Brooklyn Nets signed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the expectations were high. With Durant missing the season recovering from his Achilles injury, the Nets real championship chances will begin next year. Brooklyn’s new duo hasn’t played a game together. But there has still been talk of needing another star to go with them. Brooklyn may already have that star in fourth-year guard Caris LeVert.
LeVert was selected with the 20th pick in the 2016 Draft by the Indiana Pacers. The Nets acquired the pick days before the draft in a trade for forward Thaddeus Young.
In his rookie season, LeVert played in 57 games averaging 8.2 points per game and 1.9 assists, while shooting 45% from the field. He would see an increase in playing time in 2017, playing in 71 games and averaging 12.1 points, 4.2 assists and shooting 43.5%.
In 2018, LeVert suffered a foot injury on November 12 in a game against the Timberwolves. He would manage to return from the injury after missing 42 games, averaging 13.7 points, 3.9 assists and shooting 42%. Even with the injury-shortened season, Brooklyn gave LeVert a three-year, $52 million contract extension on August 25, 2019.
The 2019-20 season was shaping up to be Caris’ best season yet. He would miss 24 games after having thumb surgery back in November, but returned in January. LeVert was playing some of the best basketball of his young career before the NBA season was suspended in March, including a career-high 51 point performance in a win over the Celtics on March 3. Just three days later, he had a 27 point triple-double in a win over the Spurs. LeVert and the Nets were 4-1 in its last five games before the stoppage.
When the season resumed, Brooklyn would be without key players Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, and Taurean Prince. It was LeVert’s team to lead in the bubble, and he did just that. In his six games in the NBA’s restart, LeVert averaged 25 points, 6.7 assists and shot 48%. He scored 27 points and had a career-high 13 assists in a win over the Clippers on August 9. That win clinched the No. 7 seed in the East. In the last of the seeding games, he scored 37 points in a one-point loss to Portland.
LeVert’s performance so far in the restart has opened plenty of eyes around the league. He was named to the NBA’s All Seeding Games’ Second Team. It seems that Brooklyn has indeed found its third star.
The No. 7 seed Nets will begin its first round playoff series against the No. 2 seed Toronto Raptors on Monday.
(Photo: Matt York/Associated Press)