Brooklyn Nets wing Caris LeVert hit a game-winner to defeat the New York Knicks on Friday, so he’s already being identified as the Nets’ best player and earning league-wide praise.
According to Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck, the “prevailing opinion” around the NBA is that LeVert is Brooklyn’s biggest talent. The 24-year-old, who was made untouchable in trade talks for Jimmy Butler, has looked very sharp to start the season for the Nets.
Jonathan Tjarks wrote about his unique talents and skill set (via The Ringer):
“LeVert can play with anyone, since he has the playmaking ability to initiate the offense, the shooting ability to play off the ball, and the physical tools to be a credible defender at several positions… He would be really interesting in a role similar to the one Malcolm Brogdon has in Milwaukee, as a supersize secondary playmaker at point guard who could be one of the linchpins of a switch-heavy defense.”
One of his strengths is executing pick-and-rolls, which is something that head coach Kenny Atkinson immediately noticed about LeVert during his first season in the league.
He averaged 0.88 points per possession as the ball-handler in a pick-and-roll offense for the Nets during his rookie campaign. LeVert was 35-for-73 (47.9 percent) on these opportunities, per Synergy Sports. This ranked behind only Tobias Harris, LeBron James and Paul George among all forwards who had at least as many opportunities.
Last season, he ranked just outside the Top 10 among all forwards in total points scored as the ball-handler on PnR possessions. LeVert averaged 3.3 points per game on this play type.
But through two games, the Brooklyn wing is currently averaging an astronomical 14.5 points per game as the playmaker on pick-and-rolls. To to put this into perspective, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard led the NBA last season, averaging 12.4 points per game on this play type.
Despite the small sample size, his playmaking has earned the praise of veteran teammate Jared Dudley (via NetsDaily):
“That’s how you can tell a role player from someone who can be somewhat special is how are they with their ball-handling? Can he do pick-and-rolls? Can he pass off the pick-and-roll? And so, for one, he’s a scorer. He’s a prototypical two-guard. Usually in year three or year four, you make that huge jump. Confidence wise, you hear D’Angelo Russell when he gives him the ball for him to score, when a point guard is instilling that in you, he’s instilling it in you because you’re capable and he’s seen you do it.”
LeVert has done well as a spot-up shooter and in transition as well. However, it’s clear that he’s at his best in the pick-and-roll. If the Nets want to get the most out of LeVert, this is exactly how they need to keep utilizing him offensively moving forward.