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Depleted Nets Will Rely on Caris LeVert

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Depleted Nets Will Rely on Caris LeVert
Caris LeVert #22 of the Brooklyn Nets. Emilee Chinn/Getty Images/AFP

Caris LeVert has been in the NBA for four years and he will face the biggest challenge of his career when play resumes on July 30th.

LeVert’s scoring ability is his greatest strength and he will his team’s best player at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Walt Disney World.

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LeVert was Having a Promising Season

A right thumb surgery in November stopped LeVert’s momentum but he picked up where he left off when he returned in January. LeVert has played just 39 games so far and he still improved his numbers from last season.

The former Michigan star is averaging a career-high 17.7 points, to go along with 4.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists. He is shooting 41.4 percent from the field and a career-best 38.1 percent from beyond the arc.

Spencer Dinwiddie is out for the rest of the season. Dinwiddie was the team’s primary ball handler without Kyrie Irving but he won’t play in Orlando after testing positive for COVID-19.

No Dinwiddie means that the Nets will need LeVert to be their main playmaker. LeVert is more than capable of doing just that and he will cherish this opportunity. I will follow LeVert’s player props at the best sportsbooks and possibly add them to my NBA picks.

Caris LeVert’s Career Stats

LeVert scoring has increased on each season he’s been in the NBA. His overall shooting percentage has decreased though, but it’s mostly because he’s attempting way more shots. For example, this year he is taking a career-high 15.6 shots per game, as opposed to his 6.7 as a rookie in 2016-17.

The Nets trust him to lead the offense and help his teammates make plays and it’s easy to see why. He averages 3.5 assists per game in his career but this season he’s dishing out 4.1. Also, LeVert had his first career triple-double on March 6th, finishing with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 139-120 home win against the Spurs.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are still out, for obvious reasons and Spencer Dinwiddie (plus-2.6 Offensive Box Plus/Minus), DeAndre Jordan (plus-2.8 Box Plus/Minus), Wilson Chandler (plus-1.0 Defensive Box Plus/Minus) and Nicolas Claxton will also miss the rest of the season.

Jordan tested positive for COVID-19, Chandler opted out of playing in Orlando and Claxton has a left shoulder injury. This is LeVert’s time to shine.

What to Expect From the Nets in Orlando

The Nets (+8500 to win the Eastern Conference at 5Dimes) are in seventh place in the East, just a half-game over the Magic and 8.5 games behind the 76ers. If they make the playoffs, they will face the Bucks, Raptors or Celtics in the first round.

I say “if” because there are no guarantees in sports but the Wizards are six games behind the Nets in the playoff race and they will be without their best player Bradley Beal. What I don’t see is the Nets making it out of the first round of the playoffs.

Jamal Crawford just signed for the rest of the season and he will provide a much-needed scoring punch off the bench.

Crawford, the first player ever to score 50 points for four different teams, has averaged 14.6 points in 29.4 minutes over 1,326 career games. He hasn’t played since scoring 51 points in the 2018-19 regular season finale with the Suns.

Brooklyn picked up Michael Beasley too. He will have to serve a five-game suspension for violating the anti-drug policy last April but he’s inexpensive and is capable of putting points on the board. Like Crawford, he’s fun to watch and he can ball out. Both are kind of made for this setup.

This team isn’t a contender this year but LeVert can establish himself as the third option on offense behind Durant and Irving next season.

As for Crawford and Beasley, they will have a chance to audition for a spot on the Nets or on another team next season. The Nets should go to Orlando focused in LeVert’s development and I will pay close attention to what Crawford and Beasley can do. These games can help shape this team for next season.